Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

 

United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax preparation for families and individuals with income of $56,000 or less.

This program promotes financial well-being, one of United Way’s nine Steps to Success. Our team of staff and volunteers prepare income tax returns for qualifying families and individuals and advocate for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Our work ensures that tax returns are accurate and everyone receives their full refund and avoids unclaimed tax credits, fees for tax preparation services and refund anticipation loans.


Partners

  • Internal Revenue Service VITA Grant

  • Virginia Community Action Partnership

Please check back later for our 2021 sites.

 

Thank you for your interest in becoming a United Way volunteer for our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program!

No prior knowledge or experience is necessary to volunteer; there are a variety of roles available to match your skills and interests. Click here to watch a video created by the Get It Back Campaign to show you what being a volunteer will be like.

Getting involved is easy – follow our steps below.

  1. Complete the volunteer information form
  2. Attend a volunteer meet and greet information session
    • Training dates and times will be posted in Fall 2020.
  3. Choose a volunteer role
    • VITA sites need different volunteer roles filled to ensure the best help is provided.
  4. Sign up for training
    • You will be trained by IRS-certified tax instructors and receive IRS training materials.
  5. Pass certifications tests
    • Create a Link and Learn account here.
  6. Return signed Form 13615 Volunteer Agreement
  7. Sign up for volunteer shifts

Greeter/Screener

Set a good tone

Do you want to ensure that everyone feels welcome in our tax assistance sites? Greeter/Screeners are the first point of contact for clients entering a United Way VITA site. You will ensure that clients have the necessary documents and direct them through the intake process. This role is crucial to ensuring a smooth and efficient flow.

  • Training: Optional Greeter/Screener training.
  • Certification: Must pass Intake/Interview & Quality Review exam and Volunteer Standards of Conduct exam.

Interpreter

Translate for non-English speaking clients

Volunteers in this role provide free interpretation services to clients who are not fluent in English. Basic tax knowledge is helpful for interpreting some financial jargon, but not required.

  • Training: None
  • Certification: Must pass Intake/Interview & Quality Review exam and Volunteer Standards of Conduct exam.

Tax Preparer

Do the clients’ taxes

Tax Preparer is the most vital volunteer role at any of our community-based tax sites. You will directly provide free tax preparation services to United Way VITA site clients using IRS-approved online software.

  • Training: May either attend a United Way tax preparation training or use training materials available on the IRS website.
  • Certification: VITA Basic certification is required. Must pass Intake/Interview & Quality Review exam and Volunteer Standards of Conduct Exam.

Quality Reviewer

Double-check returns

All tax returns prepared at United Way Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites must be reviewed for optimal quality before filing. Quality Reviewers look over completed returns to ensure they are accurate and most advantageous to the taxpayer.

  • Training: May either attend a United Way tax preparation training or use training materials available on the IRS website.
  • Certification: VITA Advanced certification is required. Must pass Intake/Interview & Quality Review exam and Volunteer Standards of Conduct Exam.

Assisted Self-Tax Preparation (ASTP) Coach

Help the clients do their taxes

If you would rather help a client learn how to complete their own tax return than prepare it for them, you could volunteer as an ASTP Coach. Volunteers in this role guide eligible individuals through the process of preparing and filing their own returns through a free online service and answer any questions they may have.

  • Training: May either attend a United Way tax preparation training or use training materials available on the IRS website.
  • Certification: VITA Basic certification is required. Must pass Intake/Interview & Quality Review exam and Volunteer Standards of Conduct Exam.

CASH Coach

Provide financial resources

CASH stands for Creating Assets, Savings and Hope. CASH Coaches do that by connecting clients with important financial resources available in their communities. These volunteers promote products and services that encourage saving techniques and financial stability, as well as advocating for the financial and human service needs of clients.

  • Training: Attend a short CASH Coach training.
  • Certification: Must pass Volunteer Standards of Conduct exam.

Technology Support Specialist/Set-Up & Take-Down Aide

Work with equipment, not taxes

Tech Support Specialists address equipment and software-related issues at a tax site. For those with less tech experience, volunteers in this role may also help with setting up sites before opening and/or packing up after close.

  • Training: None
  • Certification: None

Training is very important to our VITA program. We make sure that all volunteers are prepared when tax season begins. This year, due to COVID, training classes will be in a 100% virtual environment. Printed training materials for virtual training classes or self-certification are available for pick up at our new office location.  We are now located at 7814 Carousel Lane, Suite 400, Richmond VA 23294.

During the COVID pandemic we are taking safety precautions to limit person to person contact to keep everyone safe. Please click on the link below to schedule a pickup time that works for your availability and arrive at that time. You can schedule to come in any time between 9am-4pm starting Wednesday, December 9th through January 4th. Materials will be located in our suite lobby, so you do not have to have contact with anyone.  Masks are required once you enter the building.  When you enter the building, you will take the elevator to the 4th floor. Materials will be located immediately once you exit the elevator.

Please schedule a VITA training materials pick up time.

Training Methods and Resources

Training Methods

Virtual Instruction

Classroom-style session provided via Zoom. Training will cover material related to the Volunteer Standards of Conduct, Intake/Interview and Quality Review process, Tax Law and TaxSlayer software training. Training schedule is posted in the Upcoming Volunteer Trainings & Events section below.

Self-Study

Volunteer tax preparers have the option to complete tax training independently through an e-learning platform. Independent study is recommended for returning volunteers and those with tax preparation experience. Click here to see the self-study modules.

Resources

Join the Taxpayer Opportunity Network: A free nationwide network of volunteer tax preparers. Stay up-to-date on community tax preparation through monthly updates, online learning and exclusive information.

Returning Volunteer Classes

This is a one-day training refresher training for returning volunteers with VITA experience. This class will be offered via Zoom. Participants must have access to a computer with internet connection to attend. Learn about new tax law, any changes and refresh on all of the old material. The class will get you ready to take the required certification tests which are taken on your own time.  Zoom links will be provided after registration is confirmed.

Tuesday, January 5, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. (Session 1) and Thursday, January 7, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. (Session 2)

Wednesday, January 6, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, January 9, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

New Volunteer Classes

This is a two-day training. The schedule is 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day. Register once for both sessions. Please fill out the new volunteer application at the UWGRP VITA Website before registering for a training class. This two-day training will cover the information necessary for a volunteer to pass the IRS certification test at the Basic level. This class will be offered via Zoom. Participants must have access to a computer with internet connection to attend. Reference and the test/retest materials, which are needed for this zoom class, are available on our website and for pick-up at our office.

January 5 & 7, 10:00 a.m. – 4 p.m. (each day)

January 16 & 17, 10:00 a.m. – 4p.m. (each day)

Zoom Office Hours

We are still here to help after class with Virtual VITA office hours.  Hop on Zoom and say “Hi”, ask the experts questions and chat with us about the upcoming tax season.

Friday Office Hours

Every Friday from 2 – 4 p.m.

Location: Zoom

Meeting ID: 890 2688 8037

Passcode: 563232

Tuesday Office Hours

Every Tuesday from 4-6pm

Location: Zoom

Meeting ID: 865 4905 9048

Passcode: 103894

Volunteer Login

 

What you need to know about United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program

Your taxes will be prepared by IRS-certified volunteers. Each return is screened by a Quality Reviewer to ensure accuracy.

We have many tax sites located across the Greater Richmond & Petersburg region, with a variety of operating hours to ensure everybody has the opportunity to receive help. This year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our tax sites will operate by appointment only and spaces may be limited. Sites will follow social distancing guidelines and will require masks. Check back soon for more information.

Some sites offer a drop-off service, which allows customers to meet with an IRS-certified tax preparer while sharing relevant identification information and tax documents. A team of trained tax preparers will complete the returns and customers will schedule a follow-up appointment at the tax site to review, approve and file the tax return.

New this year: Our program will offer a 100% online tax preparation from the comfort and security of home. Our new secure web portal will allow you to upload your tax information, speak to our IRS certified tax preparers and get help filing your taxes online for free. You will have to upload photos of your ID, answer some questions about your tax situation and upload your tax documents. This service requires that filers have access to the internet and a camera through a smart phone or a tablet.

 

Sites will open in late January 2021. Please check back later for a full list of tax sites.


The federal filing deadline was July 15.  If you’d like to be contacted with post-season tax filing information please contact tax@yourunitedway.org.


 

Thank you for your interest in United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

For information, please contact:

Cara Cardotti
THRIVE Collaborative Manager & Program Director
(804) 775-6433
cardottic@yourunitedway.org