Dave Martz is a numbers guy. It’s a skill set he uses to full effect as a volunteer district coordinator for AARP Foundation Tax-Aide.
Dave, 74, started off his career in accounting, then moved into other areas of finance. When he retired after 36 years in the aerospace industry, he says, “I didn't want to start another career at that point — but I thought I could do some taxes on the side.”
Then he ran into someone he knew through work who invited him to become a Tax-Aide volunteer. “They said, ‘Why don't you come and help us with taxes?’” he says, “and that's how I got into this whole thing.”
Tax-Aide is the largest free, volunteer-based tax assistance and preparation program in the U.S. The complexities of the U.S. tax code mean that many taxpayers overpay, turn to services they can't afford, or don't file — missing out on credits and deductions they've earned. But through Tax-Aide, which focuses on taxpayers who are over 50 and have low to moderate income, they have access to in-person and virtual tax preparation, free of charge.
Dave and his wife Kathy, who also retired in 2008, signed up as volunteer tax preparers and began volunteering the following year. Today, as a district coordinator for Tax-Aide in downtown Denver, Dave oversees volunteer activities for five sites.
Before the pandemic, he had 100 volunteers distributed among the sites; now, he manages the same five sites with just 68. “It’s hard getting the volunteers to come back,” he says, primarily because of lingering concerns about COVID-19. So Dave also does his own recruiting for the five sites.
“In the past, that meant I went out and stomped the bushes, and I told people I knew and people I had worked with,” he says, noting that online signups and other technological changes have shifted that responsibility off his shoulders. Not all of it, though.
“I still get calls from people. And hopefully by the time I get done with those conversations, I'll convince 'em that they can do it,” Dave says. “That's the hard part. I have to be a salesman.” And sometimes, he or Kathy will fill in when one of his sites is short a tax preparer.
But the most important thing he does is make sure his volunteers are trained and certified before each tax season begins. Tax-Aide volunteers are trained and IRS-certified every year to make sure they know about and understand the latest changes and additions to the tax code.