Tax Volunteer Spotlight: A few hundred extra bucks
As a financial advisor for 15 years, Jon Zetlmaier spends his days in suits talking finances, taxes, and stock markets. But Jon notes “I would rather wear board shorts and discuss who the greatest rock star of all time is”. In his spare time, he enjoys skateboarding, skiing, and. Living in West Seattle, Jon dropped by the Downtown Library after work once a week before heading home to his wife Megan, and their dog Pebbles- a local celebrity recently named “Pet of the Week” in the West Seattle Herald. Jon was a fantastic tax volunteer and he continues to be involved in the community as the organizer of Seattle’s Financial Planning Day coming up in October.
**We would also like to extend our congratulations to the Zetlmaier family as they welcome their new baby boy into the world! **
Why did you choose to be a tax volunteer? What do you like about it?
I have struggled to find a volunteer opportunities that I enjoy. One opportunity that was really rewarding for me was volunteering with the Financial Planning Association to teach about financial planning: basic budgeting, investments, wise use of credit, etc… This was a niche that really was appealing and right up my alley.
I heard about the United Way tax volunteer program from a coworker. It sounded like a great opportunity where I could provide some of my professional insight, and learn a bit more about our complicated tax system.
My favorite thing about volunteering was meeting new people and learning about their experiences. My perspective on things changed for the better after volunteering. The greatest part was working with immigrants. They come here not knowing the language or having two nickels to rub together to do the jobs that many Americans refuse: gutting fish, scraping bedpans, janitorial, etc… They make very low wages, but they are grateful for the opportunity to do this because here they have freedom (something I and most people I know take for granted). These people work hard, don’t complain, and helping them get a few hundred extra bucks on their tax return was truly rewarding.
As a first year volunteer, can you describe your experience?
You spend 2 Saturdays with a bunch of strangers in a college classroom learning about the software. I know my way around the tax rules, but remembering which forms off the top of my head is still confusing. I couldn’t tell you without looking at the form what a Schedule B, C or D do. The software training made me look like a pro in light of ignorance. By the end of the tax season I was a wiz and could churn out more returns than most during my shift. I even was reviewing others’ work by the end of the season.
Seattle Financial Planning Day is an annual event put on by the Financial Planning Association of Puget Sound. Our goal is to provide basic and free financial planning services to those who need them. We work closely with the City of Seattle and the Seattle/King County Asset Building Collaborative.
Participants have the opportunity to work one on one with a Certified Financial Planner (r) to go over a variety of financial topics: budgeting, retirement planning, college savings, taxes, getting out of debt, etc… There are licensed credit counselors as well. This year’s event will be in the Central District (location TBD) in early October.
We always need volunteers, especially those who can speak a foreign language. People can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if they would like more information on how to get involved.
What is the one thing you would like readers to know about the Free Tax Campaign?
This truly is a great program. As a volunteer you will learn something; you will meet cool new people; and you will help someone out who needs it.
Tax Site: Downtown Library
What would you do if you had a million dollars?: Invest it, of course!
Describe yourself in 3 words: Cynical, Genuine, Pragmatic