This webpage mirrors the hard copy training materials provided by United Way. Please e-mails us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to pick up a copy. Modules are provided by Prosperity Now Taxpayer Opportunity Network. Each module has a quiz to check your knowledge. Find the link within each tab.
All volunteer must complete each certification test annually and all volunteers are required to complete the Volunteer Standards of Conduct (Ethics) training. Volunteers who answer tax law questions, prepare tax returns or quality review must also complete the Intake/Interview & Quality Review training and exam.
Volunteers can choose to become either a Basic or Advanced level tax preparer. It is strongly encouraged that volunteers certify at the advanced level. It is not necessary to complete the Basic exam before taking the Advanced exam.
These training modules and links have all the information you need to pass either certification.
Some of the modules have a video conversation that adds to the module slide decks.
- Link & Learn Quick Start Guide
- Publication 4012 – Volunteer Resource Guide. This guide contains more detail for the content in the modules.
- Publication 4491 – VITA Training Guide. This training guide goes over all details for being a VITA volunteer.
- Publication 6744 – VITA Test and Retest. This is a printed copy of the exam. It is recommended that you work on the scenarios and answer the questions first and then log in to Link & Learn to input your answers.
- TaxSlayer Practice Lab. Access the tax software in a training environment to work practice problems, see test questions and watch tutorials.
- Tax Test Study Guide. Use this guide while taking the tax law tests. It will reference where to look in Publication 4012 to figure out the answer.
- Quality Review Resources. Learn more about the quality review process including how to complete a review in the software.
The certification tests are open book, not timed and you can save your answers to complete the exam at a later time. When taking the tests, you may use forms, instructions and any other reference material received during training or in the modules.
The passing score for each test is 80% and you have two attempts to pass each exam. It is recommended that you work through the scenarios and answer the questions before logging the answers online.
We will be offering Virtual Office Hours on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m. from December 20th – February 2nd. Use this time to connect with VITA trainers to ask questions regarding the tax law certification tests! This is an open session-come any time!
Monday Virtual Office Hours
4:00 – 6:00 p.m. – Zoom Link
January: 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st
Step 1: Volunteer Standards of Conduct, Intake/Interview & Quality Review Training
All volunteers are required to complete the Volunteer Standards of Conduct course and exam. Volunteers who answer tax law questions, prepare tax returns or quality review must also complete the Intake/Interview & Quality Review training and exam.
Complete this module to understand the Volunteer Standards of Conduct, Intake/Interview & Quality Review Training.
Learn the volunteer standards of conduct and what it means to be a VITA volunteer. The video gives a national perspective of VITA services during the COVID 19 pandemic.
- Quality Site Requirements
- Publication 4961 VITA/TCE Volunteer Standards of Conduct
- Form 13614-C Intake/Interview & Quality Review Sheet
- Publication 5101 Intake/Interview & Quality Review Training
Test your Knowledge
Step 2: Tax Law Training
Complete these modules to understand basic tax law. To review more about Advanced tax Law, check out the Link & Learn Taxes e-learning page.
Preparing an accurate return requires appropriately determining a taxpayer’s filing status and dependents. Although the value of the dependency exemption is $0, there are other credits that rely on making the right determination of who can be claimed as a dependent.
- Filing Status & Dependency: Quiz
- Filing Status Interview Tips
- Filing Status Decision Tree
- Overview of Rules for Claiming a Dependent
Income comes in all shapes and sizes. From common wage-earners, who bring in a W-2, to retirees with pensions, to gambling winnings, and all points in-between. In this module you’ll learn about the various ways in which tax filers can earn and present with income (including cash – which must be reported), and how and where to incorporate that income in the tax return.
- Income: Quiz
- Sample W-2
- Form 1099-MISC
- Form 1099-R
- Form 1099-G
- Form 1099-DIV (Dividend Statement)
- Form 1099-SSA (Social Security Statement)
- Form 1099-NEC (Nonemployee Compensation)
Adjustments to Income
American taxpayers are not taxed on all the income they earn in a year. Adjustments are a way to reduce a tax filers taxable income. Here you’ll learn about various allowable adjustments to income to reduce taxable income.
Advanced Level volunteers will need to learn about Health Savings Accounts to pass their exams!
Non-refundable credits help to reduce a taxpayer’s tax liability. The value of these credits is deducted directly from the total tax liability. If there is no tax liability, these credits cannot be applied to the return. Learn about the various non-refundable credits, their value, and how they are applied to the return.
Refundable credits have value, even if the tax liability is zero (0). Learn about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) it is impact on the return, and other important information about the timing of refund distribution for returns that claim the EITC.
Sometimes going to school or going back to school can result in certain tax benefits. Learn how pursuing post-secondary education or taking classes or certifications for work can lead to credits such as the American Opportunity Credit, or the Lifetime Learning Credit.
You have interviewed the taxpayer, checked their ID’s and Social Security Cards, entered all of the data, and made sure the taxpayer claimed all the credits they were eligible for. You’ve almost completed your first VITA tax return. Now let’s talk about how to get all the way to the finish line!
Whether this is your 2nd or 20th season, this module will cover some the new changes for tax year 2021, especially with the implementation of the new tax credits such as the temporarily refundable Child Tax Credit.
This module covers the most up-to-date tax law extenders for the 2020 calendar year up to January 2020. The extender law may change between the times of publication and the time of accessing the training.
To be updated as soon as extenders are announced.
Step 3: VITA Certification Exams
Once you’ve completed the training, it is time to take the certification exams.
Create your Link & Learn Account
Use the Link & Learn website to take the online exam after completing the online training and practice exercises.
Create a new account or login with your previous years’ login information. This account includes personal information needed to register as a VITA volunteer.
The certification exams consist of two parts:
- The first few scenarios do not require that you calculate a tax return. Read the interview notes for each scenario and use your resources to answers the questions.
- The last few scenarios require that you calculate a tax return. Use the Practice Lab to complete the tax return and answer the questions using the tax return you prepared.
Step 4: Volunteer Agreement
The Volunteer Standards of Conduct Agreement shows all of the certification exams that you have completed. Volunteers must sign and date their Volunteer Agreement to certify their adherence of the VITA Program Requirements. You can do this electronically in your Link & Learn account. Click here for instructions.
Please email the signed Volunteer Agreement to us at email@example.com to receive instructions on how to sign-up for volunteer shifts.