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Tax Help as a Start to Mentorship

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) is an IRS program offering free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors. The IRS-certified volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.

Photo of Jason Rissman
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While its fantastic that resources are available for older adults who need help submitting tax returns, mostly relying on retired volunteers perhaps loses an opportunity to engage younger generations. When an older adult seeks help with their taxes it could be an opportunity to begin an ongoing mentorship.  

Perhaps there are accounting students looking for real world opportunities to hone their skills while also developing more empathy for older adults? A quick search revealed that there are accounting student associations linked with many universities. How might we engage students as tax and financial planning mentors? 

Thinking about the existence of IRS funded services for older adults makes me wonder what other free services are there that could be connecting points for aspiring young people and impactful mentorship opportunties?


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Photo of Meena Kadri

Great share, Jason – and took me back to this post on Student-Senior Legal-Support partnerships: "where law students gain valuable experience assisting clients in legal issues related to health, such as advance health care planning, estate planning, and public benefits." – and from one of the links on that post: "Students gain experience in an interdisciplinary environment and will understand how the law impacts health care delivery on a day-to-day basis. Weekly seminar sessions enable students to reflect on their experiences representing low-income seniors, practice their lawyering skills, and deepen their understanding of socio-legal determinants of health."

Indeed, it's interesting to explore real world needs which require skills matching to envision impactful mentorship opportunities.

Photo of Annie Valdes

I love that these contributions really nail the idea of designing for mutual benefit. Great examples everyone!

Photo of Aysha Teja

Hi Jason, Great idea! As a CA (CPA in the US) student in Toronto, Canada, I did exactly that. I volunteered with my University's Accounting Student's association at the free tax clinic. It was a great way for me to give back to the community while allowing me to develop and practice my skills. In my case, I was not able to develop a relationship with the people I was helping beyond the one-time and once a year event, but perhaps the student could also provide on-going financial planning or financial literacy mentoring as you suggested which would be a great way to develop and sustain the relationship.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Awesome to hear your reflections on this Aysha. As a volunteer, did you receive any training?