Volunteer for VITA

We Need You

Join our team of more than 80 volunteers that completed over 1200 state and federal returns last year, refunding $1.9 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. Otherwise, keep reading!

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.

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 (3-9 hours, depending upon volunteer experience & role)
  • Self-study and completion of certification tests (2-12 hours, depending upon volunteer experience & role)
  • A minimum of four 3.5 hour shifts from February through early April.
  • For new volunteer training requirements, click here. For returning volunteer requirements, click here

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! Learn new or existing skills; 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 & register for training! (You can opt-out at any time.)  Contact us at vita@uwwashtenaw.org anytime if you have specific questions.  Click here to read more about training session descriptions & dates.

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 2020, they are some Tuesdays, 5-8:30pm; every Thursday, 5-8:30pm; and every Saturday, 10am-4pm, with 3-4 hour shifts as typical; Additional volunteer shifts during regular business hours will be available upon request.

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 9 hours of in-person training is required, 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.  
For new volunteer training requirements, click here. For returning volunteer requirements, click here

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. 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 four VITA clinic sessions (approximately 9-12 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.

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