Volunteers are at the heart of the Volunteer Tax and Loan Program. ABDC recruits and trains over 80 volunteers from local businesses, professional associations, and students from local and out of state universities to prepare taxes and provide tax education in rural communities across the state during the months of February and March. Junior and senior-level students working towards an accounting degree or law degree are encouraged to volunteer as tax preparers.
Program volunteers are an eclectic assortment of outgoing, adventurous, caring, individuals who are eager to assist individuals in need and experience life in rural Alaska. Volunteers are trained as a tax preparer, educator/team leader or both for those ambitious volunteers.
Volunteers typically travel in teams of two to four, one educator/team leader and up to three preparers based on the needs of the community. The weekend trips are three to four days, depending upon flight schedules and the week long trips are six to seven days and typically service multiple communities.
During the 2015 travel season the efforts of 83 volunteers contributing 4,800 hours of service, traveling to 67 rural communities, resulted in the preparation of 5,300 tax returns, presentation of 1,700 educations, assistance to 9,800 individuals of which more than 1,100 were elders 60 years of age or older. These combined efforts generated in excess of $6.8 million in refunds.
The service the volunteers provide to those in need is invaluable, and thanks to their dedication and hard work, VTLP continues to be successful. 2016 marks the 21st year that the Volunteer Tax and Loan Program has provided tax related services to communities in rural Alaska. Thanks to all of the volunteers that have made this program possible for the last 21 years and thanks in advance to all of those who will volunteer in the future keeping the program going and growing.