Tax-Aide Counselors

Volunteer Tax Counselors prepare federal and state (Maryland) tax returns in consultation with tax-payer clients during face-to-face real-time appointments. All Tax Counselors are Certified following intensive training and testing by both the IRS (Federal) and AARP/State of Maryland. We work in teams at more than 20 different locations, including libraries, community centers, and senior centers around Montgomery County. Click here for a partial list of sites.  This year, we are looking for volunteers particularly at the several specific sites:  Wheaton Library, White Oak Community Center, Riderwood Retirement Community, and Gaithersburg Library late afternoon hours.

Most tax appointments are during the work week.  There are some late afternoon, early evening, and Saturday appointments at a few sites.  We ask volunteers to commit to at least four to six hours each week during the tax season (first week in February until April 15) although most put in more hours.

Volunteer counselors have a variety of experience.  All volunteers should be familiar with one or more web browsers, Form 1040 for individual tax returns, and the use of a software package for tax preparation.  More specifically, you should be comfortable using a computer on the internet, and you should have a general understanding of income and deductions and their entry on 2019 Form 1040. (Details of entering this information on relevant lines on new tax forms for the coming year will be presented during training).   If you do not meet these prerequisites, please consider volunteering for one of our other positions.   We will not be able to help you with the basics of these prerequisites during the training class.

Training

Training classes for all Tax Counselors are held at the Gaithersburg Library, 18330 Montgomery Village Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD 20879 in the large meeting room upstairs, accessible by elevator.

New Counselors are required to attend five days of training that cover both federal and Maryland tax law integrated with the computer program (TaxSlayer) used to prepare tax returns. Volunteers are required to attend every day.  This training is scheduled for January 13th, 15th, 17th, 21st, and 23rd from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.

Returning Counselors may attend either the five-day training course, or one of two sessions of a two-day class.  The first session is scheduled for January 14th and 22nd.  The second session is scheduled for January 16th and 24th.

Registered volunteers will receive an email in December with information on preparing for the training sessions, including setting up a user account in the Practice Lab and accessing the presentation material.   These tasks must be completed before the first day of training.  Classes will require homework including reading and doing tax problems to prepare for the next class and for certification tests.

Snow policy for training classes:  As a general rule, if Montgomery County Schools are closed, no tax classes; if schools open late, tax classes begin on time. We do have snow days scheduled if necessary.

Certification

Before assisting taxpayers with their returns, volunteers must receive IRS (for federal) and AARP (for Maryland state) certification by passing an IRS open book exam and a Maryland open book tax exam using TaxSlayer computer software.  Training sessions assist volunteers to gain the knowledge necessary to pass the certification exams and to prepare accurate tax returns.  
 
Completion of problems on both the IRS and Maryland tax exam requires using computers with the IRS-supplied tax program TaxSlayer. The certification exams (IRS and MD) are due no later than noon on January 28, 2020 but may be submitted earlier.
 
If you would like to get a head-start on the material, go to www.irs.gov and look at Pub 4012 and 4491.  These publications and the IRS certification test in Pub 6744 are available on the IRS website.   All counselors are certified at the Advanced level. 

Laptop Computers

This year, we will be using AARP-provided Chromebooks for all tax preparation.  No personal laptop computers will be allowed to access Tax Slayer software for the new season, though we may use some personal laptops to access information resources.  We do not yet know when we will receive these Chromebooks, and you may need to bring a personal laptop computer to training sessions in January.  Practice sessions using Tax-Slayer and homework problems will be available via your own computer.  AARP requires that you use Windows 10, since earlier versions of Windows are no longer compatible with Tax-Slayer. Also, the software is not supported by Internet Explorer browsers.  

We have a limited number of ‘loaner’ laptops (prior to Chromebook delivery).  Please indicate whether you will need to use a loaner laptop on the registration form.

Tax-Aide Counselors Registration

If you wish to volunteer for the 2020 tax season please complete this registration form by November 29, 2019.  If you have questions please email montgomerycountytaxaide@gmail.com

Mentors 

Mentors are returning counselors who help volunteers during training and certification. Mentors should complete the certification exams before the start of new counselor training. 

A mentor attends designated new counselor trainings sessions to help the new volunteers during the session. Mentors will also staff workshop sessions in January to assist both new and returning volunteers with TaxSlayer. 

Please indicate on the registration form if you are interested in volunteering as a mentor. Mentors will be contacted in late December after we have an estimate of the number needed.