Joe Valiante: Taxing Volunteer Work

The Staples High School 1961 yearbook listed 2 goals for senior Joe Valiante. He wanted to be an accountant. And he wanted a hole-in-one.

He got the ace.

He also took accounting courses at the University of Miami. But he left before earning his degree.

So the native Westporter spent 5 years working for Connecticut National Bank.

Joe Valiante's shirt honors 2 of his passions: the Fire Department and golf.

Joe Valiante’s shirt honors 2 of his passions: the Fire Department and golf.

In 1968 he joined the Westport Fire Department. For 35 years he worked his way up, from firefighter to lieutenant, then captain and assistant chief. He also earned an associate’s degree in fire science from Norwalk State Technical College.

Valiante fought some of Westport’s biggest fires: Klaff’s. Westport Hardware. Sherwood Square (twice). The bowling alley.

Before retiring, he saw an ad for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Serving low- and middle-income people, it seemed like the perfect way to use his accounting talents.

Valiante underwent rigorous training. (He re-trains every year.) He signed a waiver, saying he would accept nothing for his work — no money, no gifts.

Then he went to work.

Each year — 6 days a week, from February 1 through April 15 — Valiante prepares returns. On Wednesdays he’s at the Senior Center. He splits the other days between the Fairfield and Norwalk libraries, and Norwalk Senior Center.

The Westport Senior Center offers an excellent free tax program.

The Westport Senior Center offers an excellent free tax program.

This year, he did 728 returns. That’s the most of any volunteer, for the past 10 years.

Some of his clients are elderly. Some are low-income. At the libraries, he sees anyone.

He also does pro bono work for the staff at Commuter Coffee. He did the wait staff at Mario’s too, until it closed.

Many of the men and women at the senior centers and libraries are repeat clients. Each year, they request Valiante by name.

It’s an enormous amount of work — with absolutely no pay. “Thank you is enough,” he says.

So why does he do it?

“I want to give something back,” Valiante says. “I enjoy it. I’ll go anywhere to help.”

Tax forms can be daunting for anyone.

Tax forms can be daunting for anyone.

“Besides, the people are so appreciative. And these are people who really need help. An accounting firm would charge them at least $300.”

So why is “06880” profiling a tax specialist in July?

Because Valiante is still doing returns. “There are a lot of extensions,” he explains.

Does he get an extension? You know — the cobbler’s children, and all.

Nope.

“My taxes are done by the end of February,” Valiante says proudly.

10 responses to “Joe Valiante: Taxing Volunteer Work

  1. Glenn Gans

    Nice story Dan, it is refreshing to read these stories that the major media often neglect.

  2. Michael Calise

    Volunteers like Joe are the backbone of our town.

  3. Joe has been doing my taxes for a few years now. He is always on point and I couldn’t be happier. Thanks Dan for his recognition.

  4. Tom Allen '66

    When I was a kid in Saugatuck, Joey Valiante was one of the older guys we twerps looked up to. Later, he married my neighbor, Beverly Falasco. What a great story, Dan, of a life well spent in the service of others in our hometown and throughout the area. I’m reading this while sitting in an office in Manhattan. This touch of old–and new– Westport makes my day..

  5. susan Pfister

    I appreciate all of Joe’s time and hard work. Most importantly, I appreciate his gentle demeanor when consulting with a client at the Westport Center for Senior Activities. Keep volunteering, Joe. We all need you!
    Susan L. Pfister, Director
    WCSA

  6. Susan Hopkins

    Kudos to Joe Valiante! Great story, Dan.

  7. Jamie Walsh

    An example of a great and kind hearted Westporter who clearly shines everyday!

  8. Dear Joe
    Congratulation! All of your hard work has finally paid off. I know that if anyone could do the taxing volunteer work it would be you. It takes a great deal of talent,effort and determination to achieve such a challenging goal,and it’s very inspiring to me to see you realize it. Once again congratulation. I;am very proud of you.
    Sincerely Angelo veno

  9. Wendy Cusick

    I hear great things about the tax volunteers at the Norwalk Public Library and South Norwalk Branch Library. Must be Mr. Valiate Thank You for Your Servixe

  10. Vince Bufano

    I have known Joe for many years I have also known of his Volunteerism.
    Now a lot more people know about him, and his service to the IRS. He devotes three months to do these returns for people ,many of whom could not afford an accountant. It takes a special person to take on this project every year that is my friend Joe Valiante. Westport is fortunateto have him as a loyal citizen.