VITA Training

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.

The videos and slides contain the same content; however, the slides have links to other important material that you don’t want to miss.

Certification Tests

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.

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 these modules to understand the Volunteer Standards of Conduct, Intake/Interview & Quality Review Training.

Module 1A: Welcome to VITA

Learn the volunteer standards of conduct and what it means to be a VITA volunteer.

Additional Resources

Module 1B: Client Intake Process

See the IRS Form 13614-C (Intake/Interview form) and why it’s important at the tax site.

Additional Resources

Module 1C: Client Interview

Understand how to conduct a thorough interview with customers.

Module 1D: Quality Review

Understand how to conduct a thorough quality review.

Additional Resources

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.

Module 2A: Filing Status

Understand how to select the appropriate filing status and how filing status and dependents affect tax returns.

Module 2B: Dependency

Understand who can be considered a dependent and how filing status and dependents affect tax returns.

Module 3A: Income

Understand income as it pertains to the tax return and the use of each form in the 1040.

Module 3B: Additional Income (Schedule 1)

Understand the different sources of income that are reported on a Schedule 1 and the types of income that are out of scope for VITA.

Module 3C: Miscellaneous Income

Understand what miscellaneous income is, how Form 1099-Misc works, where to report it and how it affects a tax return.

Note: This is an advanced tax law topic.

Module 4: Adjustments to Income

Understand how Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) affects tax liability/refund on the 1040. Learn how to calculate deductions like the educator expense, penalty on early withdrawal of savings, alimony paid and student loan interest.

Module 5: Deductions

Understand how tax liability is calculated and the difference between standard and itemized deductions.

Module 6A: Credit for Child & Dependent Care Credit

Understand the Credit for Child & Dependent Care Credit, the five qualifying tests to claim the credit and where the credit appears on Form 1040.

Module 6C: Retirement Savers Credit

Learn about the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit, the eligibility and benefits of the credit and how to claim the credit.

Module 6B: Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled

Understand the Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled, the purpose of the credit and the limitations of the credit. Learn about Schedule R and a Physician’s Statement

Module 6D: Child Tax Credit and Credit for Other Dependents

Understand the difference between the Child Tax Credit, Additional Child Tax Credit and Credit for Other Dependents. Determine eligibility and calculate the amount of the credits.

Module 7: Refundable Credits – Earned Income Tax Credit

Understand the Earned Income Tax Credit, know the rules of eligibility and what income qualifies.

Module 8A: Tax Benefits for Education Overview

Determine who qualifies for an education credit, which credit can be claimed and if the taxpayer has scholarship/grant income or eligible expenses.

Module 8B: Eligible Expenses

Understand which expenses can be claimed for education credits, how to read Form 1098-T and calculate qualified expenses.

Module 8C: Treatment of Scholarships and Grants

Understand how to determine if the taxpayer has taxable scholarship/grant income, when to treat it as income and when to complete Form 8615 (Kiddie Tax).

Module 9: Affordable Care Act

Understand the Individual Shared Responsibility Payment, most of the exemptions, which documents are required for tax preparation and become familiar with issues that are beyond the scope of a basic preparer.

Module 10: Finishing the Return

Know how to complete tax return preparation and get ready for the quality review.

Module 11: Talking to Taxpayers

Understand how to deal with conflict and be aware of cultural sensitivity.

Dealing With Conflict
Cultural Sensitivity

Module 12: Returning Volunteers

At the end of this module, you will be prepared for the new issues that are included in the IRS Basic and Advanced tests for VITA Volunteer Tax Preparers.

Practice Problems

Use the Practice Lab to complete these problems to help you get ready for the certification tests.

Mary Lake

Practice Problem
Solution

Maurice Brooks (Advanced)

Practice Problem
Solution

Walter Rivers

Practice Problem
Solution

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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 April Wilson to receive instructions on how to sign-up for volunteer shifts.