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  • Recognising 30 years of Tax Help

    This year around 800 volunteers in about 600 locations across Australia will assist people with simple tax affairs to complete their tax returns as part of the ATO’s Tax Help Program.

    The ATO-trained and accredited volunteers provide a free, confidential service to people on low incomes. Local libraries, community centres and organisations across metropolitan, rural, and regional Australia provide valuable workspace and support for the volunteers.

    Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said the Tax Help service, now in its thirtieth year, was a wonderful example of everyday Australians helping each other.

    “Our volunteers help people from all walks of life, including those who’ve fallen on hard times and those in the community who are most vulnerable. The best bit is that it allows low-income Australians to be confident that they are getting their tax right,” Ms Anderson said.

    “We get such positive feedback from the community, our volunteers and centres. The Tax Help volunteers are providing an indispensable service which thousands of Australians rely on each year.

    “This year we are celebrating 30 years of Tax Help, which is a significant milestone. Over the past 30 years, the Tax Help service has helped more than one-and-a-half million Australians with their current and prior year tax returns. That’s enough to fill the MCG fifteen times.

    “Last year alone over 30,000 people were assisted to complete their tax returns.”

    Evelyn Jacobsen, of Canberra, has been a Tax Help volunteer since 1989. She reflected on how the process has changed in almost three decades of volunteering, with most tax payers switching to electronic filing.

    “Thirty years ago, tax returns were foolscap-sized folios, then replaced by Tax Pack and filled with fine print that took a long time to complete. Today, with myTax, I can fill out a tax return in less than 30 minutes,” long-time volunteer Evelyn Jacobsen said.

    Ms Anderson said the ATO was planning to improve the service this year.

    “We’re not slowing down. In 2018, we hope to see Tax Help expand to more locations right across Australia, from Penrith to Perth and Darwin to Dandenong. And we’re putting out a call for new volunteers to expand the service,” Ms Anderson said.

    “You don’t need to be an accountant or have special experience to be a Tax Help volunteer as we fully train all volunteers and provide ongoing support. Tax Help volunteers come from all areas of the community with a diverse range of ages and backgrounds. If you can spare a few hours each week between July and October, you can help.

    “We are also encouraging Community organisations to register to become a Tax Help centre. The ATO will provide support to recruit volunteers and ensure they receive appropriate training.”

    Becoming a Tax Help volunteer or nominating to be a Tax Help centre is easy. For more information, visit our website: ato.gov.au/taxhelp

    Last modified: 12 Apr 2018QC 55076