I was playing Contract Bridge after I had retired in early 2005, and one of the players was an AARP volunteer who helped people submit their federal tax returns for free at the local senior center. I had always done my own tax returns and had a good idea of what was involved in reporting one’s taxes, so when she asked if I might be interested in helping, I said yes.
After attending training classes and passing a series of tax tests, I started volunteering in 2006 using a pen and calculator to figure out the returns; now we use computers. We help all ages from February through mid-March and you don’t even have to be a member of AARP to come to us.
I was an engineer during my career; in retirement, I missed working with technical issues. Income tax law is a very complicated thing. It provides challenges in interpreting the law, and every year we need to be re-certified to cover new tax laws and refresh our memories on existing laws.
But beyond that, it’s the sincere appreciation and thanks from our clients that gives me the most satisfaction. It’s fun meeting new people and helping them accomplish something they find very confusing. Every day, we have someone saying, “You people do such a great job, thanks.” I would guess about 80% of our clients came to us the year before. It’s like seeing a friend once a year in many cases. Our growth in clients, I believe, is a friend telling a friend that we do tax returns and it’s free.
My Christian faith and upbringing has taught me to help others. Volunteering to do taxes is one of my ways of helping others. I believe God has blessed me by making me comfortable in my own skin, by giving me a wonderful, loving family, many great friends, and opportunities to give back.