Volunteer for VITA

We Need You

Join our team of over 80 volunteers in working to complete federal and state tax returns, helping to refund over $1.4 million into the hands of those that need it most to pay overdue bills, make car repairs, save for the future, and bolster the local economy.

Sold already? Sign-up now. We will contact you in the fall, when we begin training and certification for our 2022 season. 

What is VITA?

VITA stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. We provide free tax preparation to low-income individuals and families, allowing them to receive the maximum refund possible, to meet their own pressing basic needs or save for the future. Support and training is provided by our knowledgeable employees, volunteers, and the IRS. 

VITA ensures that clients get the maximum refund back in a secure environment, without having to pay expensive tax prep fees or be subject to predatory refund-anticipation loans.

VITA volunteers are up to the challenge of learning the ins and outs of tax preparation, enjoy puzzling out tax problems collaboratively, and work hard to support our clients in tax filing.

Volunteers can serve as Intake & Exit SpecialistsTax Preparers, or Quality Reviewers (for returning volunteers only) and are asked to commit to:

  • Training in December and/or January (3-12 hours, depending upon volunteer experience & role)
  • Self-study and completion of certification tests (2-12 hours, depending upon volunteer experience & role)
  • A minimum of ten 3.5 hour shifts from February through early April. (ten week season)

Why Volunteer?

People love volunteering for VITA because they can:

  • Help families stay in their homes, put food on the table and save for the future

  • Engage in gratifying volunteer work – interact directly with the people you are helping and see the immediate impact of your work

  • Take on a new challenge! Becoming tax certified is a great mental challenge for those who want to learn something new; gain valuable experience in preparing income tax returns and encountering various tax issues.

  • Develop/refine client counseling skills in a protected environment

  • Gain leadership skills, resume experience and network with others 

  • Earn CEU for professional certifications

"What if I'm not a finance/numbers person." It's okay! Training and reference materials are provided. Taxes are prepared using easy-to-use software. Knowledgeable volunteers are always on hand to help if you have questions. All returns are quality reviewed for accuracy. 

How do I get involved?

1. Sign-up here to be added to our volunteer email list.(You can opt-out at any time.)  Contact us at vita@uwwashtenaw.org anytime if you have specific questions. We will post training information in the fall for our 2022 VITA season.

2. Complete Certification: Set aside time on your own after training to self-study and complete certification exams. New tax preparer volunteers can expect to spend approximately 4-12 hours on self-study and certification exams, depending upon your knowledge level of taxes. Attend an optional Drop-In Test Help Session, if desired.  Check back for Certification Details.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Tax Clinic hours? For 2022 we will have shifts one weekday (day not yet determined) from 1pm-7pm and every Saturday, 10am-4pm, with 3-4 hour shifts as typical; Additional volunteer shifts during regular business hours will be available throughout the season.

Do I need prior experience preparing taxes? No, United Way will provide all training to become an IRS certified tax preparer.

What kind of training is required? For new tax preparer volunteers, approximately 12 hours of in-person training, with an additional 4-12 hours of self-study and exam taking are required. For new intake specialist volunteers, approximately 3 hours of in-person training is required. In-person training dates are offered in December & January.  
*Returning volunteers are not required to attend all trainings, and may certify on their own

Is the tax software difficult to use? No; It is similar to Turbo Tax and we will provide training on how to use the software.

What if I make a mistake on someone's tax return? VITA uses a two step quality review process to ensure that all returns are error free. A highly experienced Quality Review Volunteer reviews each tax return for accuracy. However should a mistake happen you are protected by the IRS-VITA program and cannot be held at fault for errors.

How often can I volunteer? Volunteer as often as you like, we do ask that volunteers commit to ten VITA clinic sessions (approximately 30-40 hours in total). But most volunteers enjoy doing the work and volunteer more.

Can I get continuing education credits? Yes, VITA allows CPA, enrolled/non-enrolled agents and lawyers the opportunity to receive up to 18 continuing education credits.