Looking for a volunteer opportunity to strengthen the financial well-being of our community and use your skills? Consider the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program! Through this program, you can be trained and certified to give your time preparing taxes for the most financially vulnerable members of our community. Because of you, families and individuals making under $56,000 can save money and pay down debts rather than paying for expensive tax preparation services. Last year, volunteer tax preparers brought back over $6.1 Million in refunds and tax credits to our community!

There are also non-tax preparation volunteer opportunities available as greeters and assistants. Read on for details!

Certifying as a Tax Preparer:

Tax prep certification is done through self-directed, free, online study and test-taking in an IRS portal. Below is a breakdown of the time it typically takes someone with little or no experience in tax preparation to certify:

  • 1 hour: Volunteer Standards of Conduct study and test-taking
  • 1 hour: Intake and Interview study and certification test
  • 3-5 hours: Studying tax preparation resources, completing practice tax returns, and participation in online modules
  • 2 hours: Completion of Basic Tax Preparation Certification test

For certified tax preparers, this process is much shorter- requiring only proof of tax prep certification and certification in Volunteer Standards of Conduct and Intake and Interview.

In-person training to become familiar with study resources and the IRS portal is available, and our VITA Coordinator can walk you personally through each of these steps.

Important Volunteer Information:

  • Anyone can be a VITA volunteer: Every year, hundreds of caring community members across the country including high school students, teachers, retirees and certified tax professionals participate.
  • You are protected if you make a mistake: The federal Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 limits or eliminates a volunteer’s risk and liability when acting in good faith for nonprofit organizations
  • Volunteer schedules are flexible: Volunteers are needed for every time slot from weekday evenings to Saturday afternoons across the city, and we are able to accommodate volunteers for as much or little time as they are able to give.
  • You can volunteer without preparing taxes: If you’re not comfortable preparing taxes, there are still volunteer needs! VITA sites have other volunteer positions available, including administrative assistance, greeting clients, and providing translation services for new Americans.
  • Continuing Education Credits: Accountants who volunteer for more than 15-18 hours throughout the season (not including training and certification) are eligible to receive continuing education credits.

If you are interested or would like more information, please contact Meredith Ouderkirk at mouderkirk@unitedway-cny.org or (315) 428-2220 now as tax season is rapidly approaching!