Anyone who is interested in…
- A career in tax accounting or related financial service,
- Knowing how to file a tax return, OR
… will find the VITA program richly rewarding. Volunteers will gain practical knowledge and make a measurable economic impact on our local community. Returning volunteers will have opportunities for leadership.
NEW VOLUNTEER TIMELINE
VITA is a 4 to 5 month commitment. Training is held in the Winter (December through January) followed by volunteering in Spring (February through April). To volunteer in the spring, participants must first pass the IRS’ VITA Certification Exam. This is released in late November and available through training season. No previous experience with or knowledge of taxes is required.
If you’re a new volunteer with no tax experience at all, here is what you can expect:
- Volunteer orientation (1 hour)
- Pre-season tax law and software training (24 hours)
- Practice and additional prep-work between class/study sessions (10 hours)
- Pass the IRS VITA certification exam online
- Volunteer one shift per week at the same VITA site for 8-12 weeks during the tax season (beginning of February through mid-April)
BENEFITS OF VOLUNTEERING
- Commitment is only 4-5 months out of the year and ends in time for summer break!
- Being part of a unique team of incredibly passionate and supportive volunteers
- Gaining knowledge about basic tax law
- Earning actual IRS VITA certification in order to serve as a tax volunteer
- Engaging in meaningful volunteer work and really making a difference
- Assisting people who need help – people who are truly grateful for your assistance
- Returning volunteers have opportunities for leadership roles or advanced training.
- Volunteers who are also EAs can get CE credits
Here’s what our current volunteers have to say about the program:
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
WHAT ARE THE VOLUNTEER REQUIREMENTS?
All of our tax preparers and screeners must be trained and certified by the IRS. Training class schedules vary by county and begin in December and/or January. On average, three to four days of classroom instruction is offered. For tax professionals or experienced volunteers, an online training and certification tool is available in November.
Site operation hours vary by site, but each volunteer is asked to commit to volunteer regularly (at least a 4 hour shift per week), beginning late January through April 15th.
All of our volunteers need to be comfortable working with a computer.
WHAT VOLUNTEER POSITIONS ARE AVAILABLE?
Tax Preparer: Tax preparers assist taxpayers with their tax returns during the tax season. Volunteers will complete a training course and become IRS certified to prepare taxes. Bilingual tax preparers are always in high demand.
Screener: Screeners are responsible for assisting clients with the intake form and ensuring taxpayers have the correct tax documents and identification. This is a critical role as it is the initial point at which important tax return information is gathered and verified.
Interpreter: Interpreters aid taxpayers by working alongside the tax clients and tax preparers. Spanish speaking Volunteers are always needed. Training is provided by each tax site.
Greeter: Greeters welcome tax filers to the tax site during the tax season, and may also inform taxpayers about other available community resources. Training is provided by each tax site.
DO I NEED TAX EXPERIENCE TO BE A VOLUNTEER TAX PREPARER?
No, though a liking for numbers and analysis does help. We have excellent instructors who will teach you in our trainings how to help clients file their taxes.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE IN-CLASS TAX PREPARER TRAINING AND THE SELF-PACED ONLINE TRAINING?
The in-class tax preparer training is highly recommended for new volunteers. During this training you not only learn tax law but also TaxSlayer, the computer software we use to file taxes (it takes a while to get used to!) The in-class setting is the ideal setting to ask questions and also to learn more about the program.
The self-paced online training, Link & Learn, covers tax law. This is highly recommended for returning volunteers who are already familiar with the using tax software and the VITA program. However, due to some volunteers’ schedules, self-paced online training may be the only feasible option.
I’M READY TO COMMIT!
Every site runs on volunteers. Please don’t take up a volunteer spot if you’re not sure you can commit to training, certifying, and volunteering regularly during tax season.
If you can make the commitment, go ahead and choose the county where you would like to volunteer:
- Alameda County
- Contra Costa County
- Marin County
- Napa County
- San Francisco County
- San Mateo County
- Santa Clara County
- Solano County