VITA Volunteer Training Platform

Welcome to Prosperity Now’s Taxpayer Opportunity Network VITA Volunteer Training platform. The resources provided here are made possible through the generous support of Capital One and are designed to help VITA volunteers train and become certified to provide free tax preparation services. These resources can provide a complete training or supplement the training offered by your VITA site.

This training platform contains twelve (12) modules to prepare you to pass the IRS Volunteer Standards of Conduct, Intake, Interview and Quality Review, and Basic Volunteer Certification Tests. We recommend you complete the modules in order by sorting by "Title." Or feel free to browse each module in the order assigned by your local VITA program. 

This resource is free and open to all VITA volunteers, program managers, site coordinators and others.  Feel free to access and/or download as many of the materials as you’d like! 

We’d love to hear from you!  Let us know about your experience using the resources, and of course, let us know how you did on your Certification tests!

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Module 01

Intake, Interview & Quality Review

Every tax return prepared at a VITA site includes three necessary components (besides tax preparation): Intake, Interview and Quality Review.  These three processes help to ensure we maintain our quality standards and 93% accuracy rate. In this module, you’ll learn about the Intake, Interview & Quality Review processes, Volunteer Standards of Conduct, Quality Site Requirements, and be prepared to pass the IRS Volunteer Standards of Conduct (Ethics) test, and the Intake, Interview and Quality Review test.

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Module 02

Filing Status & Dependency

Preparing an accurate return requires appropriately determining a taxpayer’s filing status and dependents.  Although the value of the dependency exemption for 2018 returns is $0, there are other credits that rely on making the right determination of who can be claimed as a dependent. 

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Module 03

Income

Income comes in all shapes and sizes.  From common wage-earners, who bring in a W-2, to retirees with pensions, to gambling winnings, and all points in-between.  In this module you’ll learn about the various ways in which tax filers can earn and present with income (including cash – which must be reported), and how and where to incorporate that income in the tax return. 

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Module 04

Adjustments to Income

American taxpayers are not taxed on all the income they earn in a year.  Adjustments are a way to reduce a tax filers taxable income.  Here you’ll learn about various allowable adjustments to income to reduce taxable income.

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Module 05

Deductions

Deductions can be confusing but they are a valuable part to understanding how taxable income can impact the client's return. Follow through this short module to get the basics on Standard Deduction and Itemized Deductions! 

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Module 06

Nonrefundable Credits

Non-refundable credits help to reduce a taxpayer’s tax liability.  The value of these credits is deducted directly from the total tax liability.  If there is no tax liability, these credits cannot be applied to the return.  Learn about the various non-refundable credits, their value, and how they are applied to the return.

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Module 07

Refundable Credits

Refundable credits have value, even if the tax liability is zero (0).  Learn about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) it's impact on the return, and other important information about the timing of refund distribution for returns that claim the EITC.

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Module 08

Tax Benefits for Education

Sometimes going to school or going back to school to can result in certain tax benefits.  Learn how pursuing post-secondary education or taking classes or certifications for work can lead to credits such as the American Opportunity Credit, or the Lifetime Learning Credit. 

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Module 09

Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act mandates health care coverage for most Americans.  Although the healthcare mandate and penalties associated with not having health insurance will be rescinded after the 2018 tax year, the requirement is still effective for the 2019 filing season.

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Module 10

Finishing the Return

You've interviewed the taxpayer, checked their ID's and Social Security Cards, entered all of the data, and made sure the taxpayer claimed all the credits they were eligible for.  You've almost completed your first VITA tax return. Now let's talk about how to get all the way to the finish line! 

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Module 11

Talking to Taxpayers

VITA clients represent a diverse population, from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.  Since there is no “cookie-cutter” VITA client, there isn’t one standard way of communicating with taxpayers.  However, there are certain skills and resources that VITA volunteers can employ that will result in making the tax filing process as painless as possible.

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Module 12

Returning Volunteers

Whether this is your 2nd or 20th season, this module will cover some the new changes for tax year 2018, especially with the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Job Act. 

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Module: Additional Resources

Practice makes perfect.  In this module, you'll find practice problems to help you put into action all that you've learned.  You'll also find a library of resources that are helpful in completing returns for 2018 and beyond, including important IRS publications, quick guides, toolkits, and more!  The practice returns were developed in partnership with the Center for Economic Progress, Chicago, IL. We thank them for their continued partnership and support in developing these practice returns. 

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Volunteer Management Resources

The resources in this module have been curated from the field and include a variety of volunteer management resources to help you recruit, recognize and retain volunteers.  This is a living document, so please feel free to share any best practices for additional resources from your program.     Be sure to check below for sample volunteer surveys, recruitment flyers, thank you gifts and more! 

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