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.
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.
Module 1B: Client Intake Process
See the IRS Form 13614-C (Intake/Interview form) and why it’s important at the tax site.
- Form 13614-C Intake/Interview & Quality Review Sheet
- Intake Form in Action – Part 1 & Part 2
- Talking to Taxpayers – Video & PDF Slides
- Publication 5101 Intake/Interview & Quality Review Training
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 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 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 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).
Use the Practice Lab to complete these problems to help you get ready for the certification tests.
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.
- 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 5307 – Tax Reform Basics for Individuals and Families. This is an IRS publication that details updates as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
- 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.
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.