VITA sites within the state of Colorado generally recruit volunteers during the months of October through January to help prepare income tax returns for the following tax year, which starts the first week of February. No prior tax preparation experience is necessary, and there are volunteer opportunities that don’t actually involve preparing taxes.
About Volunteering with VITA
The VITA program prepares tax returns, at no cost, for low-to-moderate income taxpayers who meet basic criteria. The program is limited to basic (not complicated) tax returns. Most taxpayers VITA helps are eligible for additional tax credits (EITC, for example) and may not be able to afford paid professional assistance. There are locations throughout Colorado with varying days and hours of operation. Typically, the tax season is between the last week in January through April 15. No prior tax preparation experience is necessary, VITA provides free training to ensure your success.
What VITA Volunteers Do
The table below lists volunteer opportunities with VITA. Each volunteer will receive proper training/certification in their chosen role (except where noted). Depending on the size of the location and how busy it is, volunteer needs vary. Sometimes volunteers will be asked to perform multiple roles. For instance, a smaller location might ask the tax preparer to greet and sign-in a client before preparing their taxes. Keep in mind you will not be asked to volunteer in the capacity you find uncomfortable or are not trained/certified for.
VITA volunteers are classified in the following types. Each volunteer will receive proper training/certification in their chosen role. Depending on the size of the location and how busy it is, volunteer needs vary. Sometimes volunteers will be asked to perform multiple roles. For instance, a smaller location might ask the tax preparer to greet and sign-in a client before preparing their taxes. Keep in mind you will not be asked to volunteer in the capacity you find uncomfortable or not trained/certified for.
|Volunteer Position||Description||Is this for me?|
|Tax Preparers||Tax Preparers are trained and receive certification from the IRS to prepare tax returns. They prepare tax returns for low- to moderate -income taxpayers with basic returns. They work one-on-one with individuals and families using intake forms and computer software to electronically file accurate tax returns.||Tax Preparers are comfortable with computers and willing to learn basic tax law and the tax preparation software used. They work one-on-one with clients, spending time with each taxpayer to ensure they receive all credits and tax benefits they are eligible for. Volunteer tax preparers may have prior tax preparation experience, or may just be interested in learning. They must have good computer skills, a strong attention to detail, customer service skills, and the patience to understand and answer the tax questions that clients ask. Bilingual skills are not required, but may be a plus in some areas of the state.|
|Greeters||Greeters welcome clients and assist them by orienting them to the process. Often, a greeter is the first VITA person a client sees. Some Greeters perform an initial screening for eligibility and help clients start their paperwork for free tax preparation. This role includes opportunities to assist the site coordinator and tax preparers with administrative tasks, such as filing and mailings. Knowledge of the tax law is not required, but this knowledge may be acquired over time as client questions are answered.||Greeters are outgoing, organized, and can deal effectively with interruptions and competing tasks. They have excellent customer service skills, and like to interact with many different types of people. They can manage a crowd with effective communication and remain calm while still being organized. Bilingual skills are not required, but may be advantageous in some areas of the state.|
|Site Coordinators||Site Coordinators are certified tax preparers who help ensure the smooth running of the VITA site. They often perform quality review of prepared tax returns. They coordinate with the IRS to provide tax updates to volunteers, and ensure that all volunteers are appropriately certified. They support volunteers and provide guidance and resources to ensure that every tax return is efficiently and accurately prepared. Site coordinators may also work to find resources (such as equipment and space) for the site. rnrnSite coordinators generally volunteer for one or more years as a tax preparer before becoming a site coordinator.||Site Coordinators are experienced tax preparers and like to make sure things run smoothly. They are organized, have a great attention to detail, and are and able to remain calm under pressure. They have leadership skills, and prefer to have a management role working with volunteers and clients than working with one client at a time.|
|Web Programmers/Developers||The ColoradoVITA website needs assistance from web developers and programmers, to help meet the expanding needs of the ColoradoVITA website. Volunteers should be versed in Wordpress, CSS, MySQL, and PHP - or be willing to put in the time to learn. There is no training available for this role.||Web developers and programmers who volunteer for VITA are technically savvy - but also community-minded and want to put some of their expertise to work to help others. They are capable of working as part of a small team, and taking direction from a designer. They are interested in making information accessible to a wide variety of people, with varied computer and language skills.|
Volunteer tax preparers receive extensive training and are required to pass a certification exam before they can prepare taxes. Instructor-led training is available, as well as self-paced online or printed training materials. Tax preparers also receive training on TaxWise, the software used to prepare taxes.
Training generally takes place in December and January, with some sites making training available as early as November. Tax Preparers will also receive additional training on TaxWise (the tax preparation software).
How To Get Started
For more information, send an email to email@example.com. Please include your name, contact information, zip code (or the city where you are interested in volunteering), and information on what volunteer positions you are interested in. Inquiring about volunteering is not committing to volunteering! Orientation meetings will be held in October and November for interested volunteers, so you can learn more about the opportunities available and what each entails.