Information for Prospective VITA Volunteers:
Please excuse the (digital) dust, as this particular page is still under a little construction. The information is cutting edge, but some of the links are still in the lobby. We thank you for your patience, and we're glad you're here! --The VITA Team
Thank you for your interest in Yale VITA! We’re an entirely student-run volunteer organization (including Law and SOM students) that provides free tax preparation to low-income taxpayers. Last year, we reached $1.68 million in refunds to 1,108 New Haven residents. Without our help, most of these returns would never be filed at all.
To let us know that you’re interested and get on the panlist, email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re so excited to have you join us! Our goal is to exceed $2.5 million in returns during the 2018 season.
Our fantastic training coordinators (Ben, James, and Shruti) have mobilized and are happy to announce the official Fall 2017 Basic Preparer Training Calendar. We will offer two identical sessions for each of the five lessons. All sessions will be offered in Bass (Mondays: Bass L01-A and Thursdays: Bass L06-A) from 8:30pm to 9:30pm.
• Lesson 1: Monday 10/2 (Bass L01-A) & Thursday 10/5 (Bass L06-A)
• Lesson 2: Monday 10/9 (Bass L01-A) & Thursday 10/12 (Bass L06-A)
• Lesson 3: Monday 10/23 (Bass L01-A) & Thursday 10/26 (Bass L06-A)
• Lesson 4: Monday 10/30 (Bass L01-A) & Thursday 11/2 (Bass L06-A)
• Lesson 5: Monday 11/6 (Bass L01-A) & Thursday 11/9 (Bass L06-A)
• Certification Party: Sunday, 12/3 @ 2-5pm in Bass L06-A
Training sessions are HIGHLY recommended. Volunteers' experiences preparing taxes in the spring will be much smoother if they learn with us rather than on their own. And just as importantly, training will be FUN and LOW-KEY!
We work in the basement of the New Haven Free Public Library (133 Elm Street, two blocks from Old Campus) during tax season (from the beginning of the term to around April 15th). We have shifts from 3:45-5:45pm and 5:45-7:45pm Monday through Thursday; shifts from 10:45am-12:45pm, 12:45-2:45pm, and 2:45-4:45pm on Fridays; and shifts from 10:30am-12:30pm and 12:30pm-2:30pm on Saturdays.
You can choose to study and take the exam to become an IRS-certified basic preparer, which will take a few hours tops. You can also volunteer as an intake coordinator (IC) and help us greet clients and photocopy their documents and forms (being an intake coordinator doesn’t require studying, just around 30 minutes to certify).
We run tax classes once a week for five weeks in the fall (see above for more info), and we will have a certification party with food on December 3. Nothing like a little group collaboration to make the test go smoother :)
If you missed our lessons in the fall and/or are interested in studying on your own, take a look at our lessons. Don’t worry if they’re overwhelming or confusing at first! The exam is open-book. Most importantly, once tax season starts, everything will make sense very quickly. You’ll be paired with an experienced preparer until you feel absolutely comfortable being on your own. And, each shift has at least one Site Coordinator, who is there to help you 24/7.
We ask new volunteers to commit to the same two-hour shift each week (though you’re welcome to do another shift!). We’ll send out a scheduling form during Shopping Period, so that you’ll have a shift that works for you. (You can email our panlist if you need to swap shifts.)
Ideally, we ask all volunteers to be certified by the start of the spring term (January 16, 2018).
If you’re certifying on your own, here is information about how to certify as an IRS-official VITA volunteer. You should refer to the following documents attached to our website:
TaxSlayerPractice.pdf: If you plan to certify as a tax preparer (not intake coordinator), you may want to first familiarize yourself with the software we use to prepare returns, called TaxSlayer. Directions to gain access to the practice lab can be found here.
Pub4491W.pdf: If you are nervous about the tax preparer certification exam because you feel like you haven't had sufficient practice, spend some time doing some of the exercises here. These simulate preparing an actual return using all the different forms a client could bring. The certification exam will consist of several of these practice-like returns.
OfficialCertificationInstructions.pdf: Once you are ready to begin certifying, here you will find all of the links and instructions to become certified--just follow them in order (read carefully) and you should end up in the right places.
Once you have finished certifying, please email the following forms at once to me at email@example.com (please name each file as what's written in red and bold)
Volunteer Agreement Form ("LastName_VolunteerAgreement.pdf")
Standards of Conduct Form ("LastName_VSOC.pdf")
Intake/Interview and Quality Review Training Form ("LastName_Intake.pdf")
The first three forms are necessary for all volunteers
Tax Preparation Certification Form ("LastName_Basic.pdf" or "LastName_Advanced.pdf") → only necessary if you’re certifying as a preparer
Remember: you can use any resources during the tests--including our PPT lesson slides, Pub 4012, or literally anything you can find on the Internet. The certification exam for preparers can be quite tedious, so give yourself as much time as you need, and work slowly and thoughtfully (you wouldn't want to fail and have to take it again!).
We’re so happy to have you on board!
Bishoy Megalla ‘20 and Sarah Siegel ‘19