VITA Training

This webpage mirrors the hard copy training materials provided by United Way. Please e-mails us at tax@yourunitedway.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.

Additional Resources

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.

VITA Volunteer Tax Alert Certification Testing #1
VITA Volunteer Tax Alert Certification Testing #2


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
February: 2nd

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.

Intake, Interview and QR: PDF Slides 

Additional Resources
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.

Additional Resources

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: PDF Slides

Additional Resources

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!

Deductions can be confusing, but they are a valuable part to understanding how taxable income can impact the client’s return. Follow through this short module to get the basics on Standard Deduction and Itemized Deductions!

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.

Extenders

To be updated as soon as extenders are announced.

Practice Problems

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

John Hammonds

Forms
Intake
Solution

Aaron Alexander

Forms
Intake

Solution

James Grant

Forms
Intake

Solution

Richard Roosevelt

Forms
Intake

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 us at tax@yourunitedway.org to receive instructions on how to sign-up for volunteer shifts.