October 29, 2018

New Volunteer

STARTING POINT: Attend our ONLINE Orientation

Our volunteers are awesome — find out why so many of them return year-after-year to volunteer with us! Attend orientation and get your questions answered before committing to volunteer! Each orientation includes time for questions, but we expect the actual orientation to be ~30-45 minutes or so. Be sure to register in advance for ONE of these upcoming sessions:

These are all ONLINE orientations, not in-person. This means you get to attend from the comfort of your own home or office! Simply register for one of the above online orientations and you will get the webinar link and call-in information in your confirmation email.

Program Details

Click on a section header below to read more about the program!

Are you interested in any of the following?

  • A career in tax accounting or in a related financial service
  • Knowing how to file a tax return
  • Volunteering
  • Helping the Community

If you can check at least one of these items, you will find our tax volunteer program richly rewarding. Volunteers will gain practical knowledge and make a measurable economic impact on our local community.

No prior tax experience necessary! Training is provided.

This volunteer opportunity is a 4 to 5 month commitment. Training is held in December through January followed by volunteering from late January through April. Participants must first pass the IRS’ Tax Volunteer Certification Exam, which is released in mid-November and available throughout the training season.

TIMELINE: If you’re a new volunteer with no tax experience at all, here is what you can expect:

  • Short term commitment for 4-5 months and ends in time for summer break!
  • Being part of a unique team of incredibly passionate, supportive, and diverse volunteers
  • Engaging in meaningful volunteer work and really making a difference
  • Assisting people who need help – people who are truly grateful for your assistance
  • Gaining knowledge about basic tax law
  • Earning actual IRS VITA certification in order to serve as a tax volunteer
  • Returning volunteers have opportunities for leadership roles or specialty certification training.
  • Volunteers who are also “Enrolled Agents” (EAs) can get

Click here to learn about what we do and why this work is important.

New volunteers typically help out as Tax Preparers, Intake Specialists or Translators.

  • Interviews taxpayers using the IRS Intake/Interview & Quality Review Sheet
  • Provide high-quality tax return preparation to taxpayers who qualify for VITA assistance
  • Prepare only returns that are within their certification level(s) and within the scope of the program
  • Enter tax information into the TaxSlayer software
  • Obtain signatures for E-File authorization
  • Answer questions and/or use available resources to assist taxpayers
  • Adhere to Quality Site Requirements and Volunteers Standards of Conduct at all times
  • Maintain taxpayer privacy and confidentially standards
  • Welcome and orient the tax filers to the tax site
  • Provide taxpayers with intake forms and answers non-tax questions
  • Ensure the taxpayer has brought all required documents to verify taxpayer identity and complete tax return
  • Determine if the return is within the scope of returns we are allowed to do and determine which certified volunteer can prepare the return
  • Manage waiting and entry areas to maintain the flow of taxpayers according to site operational procedures
  • Refer taxpayers to Tax Preparers or Site Coordinators for tax questions
  • Inform taxpayers about other community resources if and when necessary
  • Aid taxpayers by working alongside the tax clients and tax preparers
  • Bilingual volunteers are always needed, especially those who can speak Spanish

Other positions at the site are usually filled by experienced volunteers. However, sometimes new volunteers graduate into these roles during the middle of tax season.

    • Conduct quality review process on tax returns
    • Check the data for any technical errors
    • Ensure that the tax law was correctly applied for the return
    • Verify and retain signed and dated Volunteer Standards of Conduct Agreement for all volunteers at the tax site
    • Ensure that the tax site is open as scheduled and adequately staffed
    • Supervise volunteers working at the site
    • Complete the Quality Review process for returns completed at the VITA location
    • Submit tax return E-files to the IRS in a timely fashion
    • Ensure rejected returns are either corrected or the affected taxpayer contacted
    • Answer taxpayer questions regarding tax or the client’s tax return
    • Must be certified at the Advanced Level through the IRS Link & Learn website
One of the common questions from prospective volunteers is “Do I need tax experience to be a volunteer tax preparer?” The answer is no, you do NOT need tax experience to become a tax volunteer. A liking for numbers and analysis does help though! In the Bay Area, many of our volunteers are engineers, nurses, lawyers, accountants, students, retired, or tax professionals. The vast majority of our volunteers are not tax professionals. Each training season, we have excellent instructors in our training classes who teach new volunteers how to help clients file their basic tax returns.These are the general requirements for becoming a tax volunteer:

  • All of our volunteers need to be comfortable working with a computer and the internet.
  • Be comfortable working with people.
  • Complete your IRS Volunteer Certification. Passing the IRS volunteer certification exam is required, since all volunteers must be IRS-certified. Training class schedules vary by county and begin in December and/or January. On average, three to four days of classroom instruction is offered. Online training and certification is also available.
  • Serve as a regular volunteer. This means you commit to volunteer one shift per week at the same VITA site for 8-12 weeks during the tax season (late January through mid-April). Site operation hours vary by site, but a typical volunteer shift is 3-4 hours. Every VITA site operates using volunteer power, so we need to have reliable volunteer staff in order to run. You will be expected to attend your assigned volunteer shifts on time so that site operation is not short-staffed or negatively impacted. Be sure to notify your Site Coordinator of any absences in advance, so that there is less of a negative impact on site operation.

View our frequently asked questions first.

If you still have questions, feel free to say hello and email us!

Steps to Become a New Volunteer

Learn about our program and what it takes to become a volunteer.

This will be where you will volunteer during tax season. Note that training may be provided in a separate location.

STEP 3: TRAIN & CERTIFY (Required)
Complete online or in-person training. Then pass your IRS tax volunteer certification exam.

STEP 4: VOLUNTEER (Required)
Contact your site coordinator to start volunteering regularly with the tax site you signed up for. Thanks for volunteering and assisting local taxpayers!

AFTER ORIENTATION: Sign up for a tax site!

If you have already attended orientation, you can sign up for a site here: https://volunteer.uwba.org/eks-volunteer.

NOTE: All Santa Clara County and San Mateo County sites will be posted by Wed. Oct. 16th! All other counties will be posted on a rolling basis by the end of October. Training in Santa Clara County begins in November. All other counties have training in January.

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