In 2011, volunteers prepared for free more than 7,000 tax returns, which helped lower-income residents claim more than $7.2 million in refunds.
A coalition of agencies is now recruiting tax preparers for the 2013 tax season. The program is supported by United Way of Pasco County, AARP Tax-Aide and the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.
With the IRS raising the eligibility limit to $57,000 this year, more than six out of 10 Pasco households will qualify for the free help, said Judith D. Tilton, director of community services at United Way of Pasco.
No previous experience is required, Tilton said. Volunteers receive specialized training from certified VITA/Tax Counseling for the Elderly volunteers and can serve as greeters, reviewers or tax preparers.
The IRS provides free tax law and e-file training and all the materials needed to prepare basic individual income tax returns.
The hours are flexible. Volunteers are asked to serve an average of three to four hours per week from mid-January through April 15.
Pasco will have 10 tax-prep sites, generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools and other convenient locations.
Most VITA/TCE sites offer free electronic filing of tax returns.
United Way officials also appeal to volunteers to participate in the Prosperity Campaign.
In Pasco County, more than 60 percent of 182,321 households qualify to receive this free service. For elderly and working families with limited income, having to pay for a tax return could be a genuine burden.
Last year, more than 125 local residents answered the call and volunteered in Pasco's Prosperity Campaign, Tilton said. "We promise it will be an exciting, educational and enjoyable experience that will make positively impact you and the people you serve," she said.