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.

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 will be posted soon.

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. Note: Module content is not currently updated.

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.

Training dates and times will be posted in Fall 2020.

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