The new year is here and many of us already are in tax preparation mode, gathering receipts and paperwork for every deduction or credit allowed.
But there are thousands of others for whom this chore is rather daunting, and they can't afford to pay an accountant or certified tax preparer.
For people whose income was $50,000 or less in 2011, the IRS annually tries to help.
The agency's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program needs volunteers who would like to learn about basic tax law and tax preparation. Training is free, but volunteers also must provide free preparation of basic tax forms to people in their communities across the state.
Since volunteers are trained, a financial background is not required. So it's also an excellent way for any individual to become knowledgeable about basic tax law.
All employees should receive their W2 form — showing wages paid and taxes withheld — from employers by the last day of January, so volunteers can expect to work at various times from February through April 15.
For seniors who can't afford an accountant, the Internal Revenue Service has free tax counseling. This is an easy way to ensure you don't miss out on deductions, credits or other tax breaks.
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Online volunteer sign-up Form 14310, can be found on the IRS website, www.irs.gov, by typing “volunteer” in the search window, then clicking on “Volunteer in Your Community.” The form can be submitted electronically, or mailed to: IRS VITA, Attn: P. Byerly, Stop 1040, 55 N Robinson Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73102.