United Way seeking volunteers for VITA tax preparation program

The United Way of East Central Iowa is seeking volunteers for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for the upcoming tax season.

Yearly, UWECI organizes VITA with community partners to provide tax return assistance for local families and individuals. United Way recruits and trains volunteers for VITA locations in Benton, Cedar, Jones and Linn counties.

VITA is a national IRS sponsored program that helps individuals receive their maximum federal and state tax refunds. Individuals with a yearly household income of less than $60,000 may qualify for VITA’s services.

The average tax preparation fee is $176. Those who can’t afford the fee either do their own taxes (often missing important tax credits) or do not file their taxes at all. Through VITA, IRS-certified volunteers complete and file tax returns for free.

In 2022, 72 volunteers contributed 5,650 hours to the VITA program, preparing 1,562 federal tax returns. This helped VITA clients claim more than $2.9 million in federal and state tax refunds.

Multiple volunteer roles are available, including Intake Specialist, Greeter, and Tax Preparer. All the positions require some training, but the training is free and UWECI provides all necessary materials.

A description of volunteer roles is as follows:

  • Greeter – Do you like talking with and organizing people and processes? We need volunteers who can be a friendly face and help keep things moving at the tax site. No tax knowledge is required or expected. You only need to register, pass a ten-question ethics quiz, and attend a one-hour training session to prepare for this role.
  • Tax Preparer – Do you like details, numbers, talking with people and problem-solving? Become a volunteer tax preparer with VITA. UWECI provides training to get you ready to prepare taxes (no financial background required) for community members. You prepare taxes on behalf of clients with a team at the site. Once taxes are completed, they are reviewed by a Site Coordinator or Quality Reviewer. You need to register, pass a ten-question ethics quiz, attend a few classes to prepare for the IRS Tax Preparer Certification, and pass the certification exam to prepare for this role.
  • Intake Specialist – Do you like details and talking with people? Become an intake specialist with VITA. In this role, you welcome clients who are dropping off their taxes, ensure that the intake form is completely filled out, and all materials have been provided by the client. We provide training (no financial background required) to get you ready to take tax information in so it can be prepared at another site. You only need to register, pass a ten-question ethics quiz, and attend a few training sessions.

During the ten-week tax season, greeters, intake specialists, and the tax preparers can select volunteering time slots of three hours per week. Time slots are available during the day, in the evening and on Saturdays.

Training for this year’s tax season will begin in December. More information is available on UWECI’s website at uweci.org/VITA or by phone at 319-398-5372.