VITA Orientations for the 2020-2021 Season Now Live
Every year, the Capital Area United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program provides free tax services to thousands of individuals and families throughout the Capital Area. You can help us provide an invaluable service by volunteering with the VITA program. This year, we will be hosting regular, virtual, orientation sessions to give prospective volunteers a chance to learn about the program, meet staff and some other volunteers, as well as ask questions. All sessions will be held via Zoom and last roughly one hour.
Click on the link below to view the orientation dates. To RSVP for one of the sessions or to get more information, please email Nick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Events with zero attendees will be cancelled!
What is VITA?
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA, is an IRS program administered by partner organizations throughout the United States. We provide free, high-quality tax preparation services for low to moderate income households making $57,000 or less.
The Capital Area United Way’s program focuses on serving residents of Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham counties and is powered in large part by volunteers
Why is this important?
As a volunteer you provide an invaluable service to your friends and neighbors. An hour of your time results in a refund of more than $1,000 and close to $200 in tax preparation fees saved per household. All told more than $5 million in economic benefit was provided to the community during the 2019 tax season.
In short, our volunteers keep invaluable funds in the pockets of those who need, money that stays in our community.
Why am I important?
Beyond the reasons listed above, we need your help to reach more folks. Nationwide the VITA program only reaches roughly 2.5% of the eligible population annually. Here in the Capital Area, we serve almost 5% of the eligible population and that still leaves tens of thousands of households unable to take advantage of our services. One of the primary barriers to reaching more households is the number of volunteers that join our program, so you and the hours you contribute truly matter.
By participating in our program there are plenty of ways to learn, grow, and develop:
- Work with a diverse group of volunteers and clients and develop the communication skills to discuss complicated topics
- Experienced tax preparers can go on to become quality reviewers who:
- Support their peers as sources of knowledge
- Ensure high-quality returns
- Provide further education to clients regarding their taxes and financial situation
- Learn about invaluable resources available in the community
Be a part of a volunteer community with more than 300 members. As a volunteer tax preparer, you will ensure that our clients get the best return on their taxes. By serving a few hours once a week during tax season, you will make a significant contribution to our effort to return millions of dollars to members of our community and help families avoid costly tax preparation fees. And there’s no need to have prior experience! We provide comprehensive training and in-person support so that you can provide clients the highest-quality service completing returns.
Not comfortable doing taxes and still want to help? Intake Specialists assist clients in filling out intake forms, scanning their documents to a secure server, and perform a short interview with clients. They ensure that all documentation is provided so that a tax preparer can fill out the return remotely.
As an Intake Specialist you help us reach underserved communities in rural and urban areas, and prevent the spread of COVID-19 by reducing face-to-face interaction time between volunteers and clients
Frequently Asked Questions
No! Our volunteers come from all types of career backgrounds and age groups, from retirees to college students and everything in between. You will only need to have basic computer skills, be willing to complete training, and be driven to help others. Our comprehensive training program will fully prepare you to help our community.
A bit nervous about jumping in to tax preparation or numbers not really your thing? You can help as a Community Resource Volunteer or a Virtual VITA intake specialist, assisting clients gather the necessary documents, and making sure the program is running smoothly.
Our training happens over three 4-hour sessions over three days at our primary location at the South Washington Office Complex located at 2500 S. Washington Ave., Lansing, MI 48910. Lecture portions cover relevant sections of the tax code and hands-on portions allow volunteers to practice preparing returns and working through typical situations. In short, by the time your first client sits in front of you, you’ll be well prepared!
We ask volunteers to serve for one, four-hour shift per week for the 10 weeks of tax season. However we have a wide range of shifts available for you to sign up for, and you will have flexibility in selecting when works for you.
You will be able to choose from several of our locations in the Lansing Capital Area (Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Counties), with most of our volunteers working at our main location at the South Washington Office Complex, located at 2500 S. Washington Ave., Lansing, MI 48910.
Errors happen to everyone. What makes the VITA program have such a high accuracy rate (94+%) is our two-step process, not found with paid tax preparers: a thorough, unhurried tax preparation process and a quality review where a veteran volunteer checks the original tax preparer’s work before submission. This means every return has at least two-sets of eyes that review the work and that nearly every mistake can be caught. If a mistake is made, amendments can be filed to rectify the error, and you as a volunteer are not liable for any honest mistakes. I still have questions! Please reach out to Nick Miller at 517-203-5014 or by email at N.Miller@micauw.org.