FLORENCE, Ky. (April 18, 2022) -- Three years ago, when Jeff Kuntz was newly retired and considering how to spend his free time, United Way’s Free Tax Prep service checked two important boxes:
“I enjoy working with numbers. And I enjoy helping people,” the Alexandria resident says.
He now does both as one of the trained, IRS-certified volunteers who provide free tax preparation and filing services for low-to-moderate-income taxpayers. During tax season, he volunteers at Free Tax Prep sites in Newport and Florence operated by Brighton Center, a United Way partner.
Kuntz has an accounting degree and a financial background, but neither is necessary to become a Free Tax Prep volunteer. Volunteers just need to be personable and friendly; comfortable working with diverse clients; willing to ask questions; comfortable using a computer; open to learning new skills; and willing to adhere to high ethical standards. United Way provides training and ongoing support.
Before becoming a Free Tax Prep volunteer, Kuntz had prepared tax returns only for himself and his family. Helping others, however, brings its own rewards.
He recalls reviewing the tax return of a couple who have a child with a disability. It was important they get the full refund they deserve. In fact, they were due a refund, but Kuntz noticed that federal taxes had been withheld from their Social Security payments. That figure had not been entered on their return.
“So, I entered it, and they got a (refund of a) couple thousand dollars more. Maybe it would have been caught by the IRS, but it just felt good that I was able to catch that,” Kuntz says.
He can feel good, too, that local residents saved $2 million in filing fees the previous tax season by using United Way’s Free Tax Prep service. What’s more, individuals and families received $10 million in refunds thanks to the efforts of Free Tax Prep volunteers like Kuntz.
It’s a big reason he devotes his free time to Free Tax Prep. But Kuntz says there’s something else: “I enjoy getting to work alongside the other volunteers. They’re really good people.”