En español | Dave Henderson, 86, considers tax season the happiest time of the year. As an AARP Foundation Tax-Aide volunteer for the past two decades, he finds his passion in a task that others may dread.
"My kids’ eyes glaze over when I tell them how my day went."
Number crunching comes naturally to the former engineer. Henderson started with Tax-Aide in 1999 and today he oversees 14 IRS-certified counselors at one of Connecticut's largest sites, in Bloomfield.
He reckons he's personally prepared close to 1,200 returns in his years with Tax-Aide.
Emphasizing accuracy over speed, Henderson sets a high bar for his volunteers, who he says must go beyond just tallying numbers. They also need to have patience and compassion.
"The most sensitive people we deal with are recent widows and widowers. They come in alone and they're very uncertain and nervous,” he said. “It's a delicate situation” that Henderson said he can relate to, as he was widowed four years ago.
Many of his clients are low-to-middle-income residents 50 and older. Most are regulars, and not shy about expressing their gratitude. “I get a lot of hugs."
These days, he spends most of his time on logistics — setting up, answering questions, troubleshooting software issues and making sure appointments run on schedule.
But doing returns is his first love, so Henderson sets aside a couple of mornings each week for tax prep work at his hometown site in Windsor.
"Preparing is what I really look forward to,” he said. “I'll do it as long as I can.”
AARP Foundation's Tax-Aide program helped 2.5 million people file taxes in 2018 generating $1.3 billion in refunds. A nationwide army of roughly 35,000 volunteers made it run smoothly.