Welcome! This tab prepares and introduces you to the resources needed for VITA volunteers to become certified. Read the bullets below and look over the training materials to familiarize yourself before proceeding to Step 1.
- Submit a volunteer application using the link in the banner or the button below.
- Attend a VITA orientation (optional). RSVP by clicking on the last tab 'RSVP Training Dates.'
- Read the VITA Certification Plan under 'Training Materials.'
- Visit the IRS’ online training platform called Link and Learn Taxes (LLT) at VITA Central.
- Visit the online Basic Certification video curriculum at VITA-Train.
- The IRS provides volunteers with a print copy of PUB 4012 VITA Resource Guide and PUB 6744 VITA Test/Retest. These will be available for pick up at the United Way SCC office in mid-November.
Studying is a big part of becoming a VITA volunteer. It is expected for a volunteer to learn and understand the basics of tax law and tax preparation. Read the bullets below for more information on what to expect going forward.
Volunteer Tax Preparers study 3 topics for testing: VITA Tax Law, Volunteer Standards of Conduct, and Intake/ Interview & Quality Review. You choose the level of tax law to which you will certify (Basic or Advanced).
Curriculum options are:
- VITA-Train: Prepare for the Basic Volunteer Certification Test using this series of 10 modules(video or pdf). Module 10 has information for Advanced volunteers also.
- Publication 4491: VITA Training Guide is the VITA tax law textbook. Icons indicate the certification level of tax topics within the lessons: a single-book icon for Basic and a stacked-book icon for Advanced. VITA Central provides tax law lessons that supplement the chapters from PUB 4491. Updated and released by mid-January 2024.
- PUB 4961: Volunteer Standards of Conduct (VSOC). Read this document.
- PUB 5101: Intake/Interview and Quality Review Training (IIQR). Read this document under the 'Training Materials' section.
Putting into practice what you have learned helps you retain information and understand tax preparation. Remember that once you start to volunteer, you will be not doing scenarios but actual returns. The community will be expecting volunteers to be knowledgeable and trustful with their information.
Read the IRS Fact Sheet: Practice Lab. This was published in 2021, but the information is still helpful.
Create your user account for Practice Lab. Before you create an account or login you will need a generic password: TRAINPROWEB.
Prepare scenario-based tax return problems using the software at Practice Lab. You may work practice returns concurrently with studying tax law. Practice problems for both Basic and Advanced are found at VITA-Train in the Practice Returns section and the Practice Lab home page, section 6.
Refer to PUB 4012: VITA Volunteer Resource Guide to help you while preparing tax return problems. It is full of decision trees, charts, and step-by-step guides for all parts of the tax return process. Please become familiar with this resource.
Attend in-person study groups (optional) to ask questions and work on a practice return together. RSVP by clicking the 'RSVP Training Dates' tab.
Once you have mastered practicing problems, you may start taking your exams at your own pace. Refer to your tax resources to complete and pass the exams. You have two chances to pass the exam.
• Create a user account for LLT Test Site by following the instructions in the 'Certification Testing: Getting Started Tutorial'. This is not the same account as Practice Lab.
• Read IRS Certification Question & Answers Fact Sheet.
Tip: Before testing refer to PUB 6744 VITA Test/Retest and work on each test in the book before going to VITA Central's online test site.
• Test VSOC (Volunteer Standards of Conduct) at LLT Site.
• Test I/I/QR (Intake/Interview and Quality Review) at LLT.
• Prepare Basic Test Scenario Problems 6 & 7(or Advanced Test Scenarios 6-8) found in PUB 6744 VITA Test/Retest on Practice Lab.
Tip: Refer to PUB 4012 VITA Volunteer Resource Guide, for help while preparing test tax returns.
• Test Basic (or Advanced) at LLT Test Site online.
• After testing, electronically sign and download F13615 Volunteer Agreement Form following the instructions in references and email to email@example.com. This form must be submitted to United Way before working with the public.
You are one step away from becoming a volunteer! Read the final requirements before serving the public.
Attend a January VITA Tax Preparer Training. Please see the schedule in the Training Materials section for the date, time, and instructions. This training is required for all volunteer tax preparers. Certify in tax law before attending.
Sign up for volunteer service hours (at least 6 hours per week for the first 6 weeks of the tax season) by sending the 'VITA Volunteer Hours Request Form' to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations! You're ready to volunteer! There are 14 VITA sites in the Cameron and Willacy Counties Coalition.
Submit the Volunteer Hours Form to United Way to let us know which site and the hours you can volunteer. United Way will confirm your site location and hours. Once you are assigned to a VITA site you will communicate directly with the Site Coordinator of that site for further volunteer instructions.
Please show up on the first day of VITA service at your confirmed site as Site Coordinators don't always have time to contact you directly before the first day of service.
Refer to the PUB 4012 Resource Guide every step of the way while preparing tax returns for clients. The Site Coordinator will answer your questions on-site.
This website has been prepared for training purposes only within Cameron and Willacy counties, Texas, VITA program and is not intended to provide tax or legal advice.