Dan describes his time volunteering with the Free Tax Help program as eye-opening and rewarding. He worked with a team of volunteers to provide tax preparation services, helping individuals and families from all walks of life, which he says can be “visceral” seeing the difference it can make in their lives.
“One of the great things is seeing the happiness on someone’s face when you show them how much their refund is going to be. For many, a $100 refund or a $1,000 refund can really make a difference in that week or that month. Sometimes you get refunds that are several thousands of dollars, and for some people, that’s a life-changing experience.”
In one of his more memorable moments, he was working with a single mother who was struggling to make ends meet. Working together, Dan was able to help her file both her current and previous year’s taxes and receive over $7,000 in refunds which were equal to a significant percentage of her total income. She told him, the funds would change her child’s life.
Dan struggled for many years with how to make an impact, so he’s grateful for the opportunity to volunteer with United Way Bay Area and use his love of learning, and love of helping people to make a difference in the community. He is meticulous, taking detailed notes for himself and the clients he works with. To date, he has volunteered 1,678 hours and prepared over 500 tax returns, though he is quick to note there are many volunteers who have spent exceedingly more time in the program.
Dan has had the opportunity to volunteer with Free Tax Help through United Way Bay Area since 2019, with the bulk of his time providing free financial services to the community being volunteered during the pandemic.
He notes that there are always more people who need tax services than volunteers and hopes his experience will encourage others to step out and give it a try.
“I [wondered] if I was qualified. But I decided to apply. I thought ‘Why not? What’s the risk?’ You didn’t have to have accounting experience and you didn’t have to be an expert – there will always be other people to double-check your work and answer your questions. It’s a team effort.”
If you are interested in volunteering with Free Tax Help, there’s still one more opportunity to get trained for the 2022-23 filing season. Visit our website to get plugged in.