Staff Judge Advocate volunteers
Published February 06, 2007
Need for Volunteers
The VITA Tax Center is almost entirely a volunteer program. The acronym "VITA" says it all -- "Volunteer Income Tax Assistance". Although the program is directed by the Staff Judge Advocate Office, the heart of the program is its volunteers. Without the volunteers, there would be no program. Without them, the free tax service provided to members of the military (active duty, retirees and their dependents) would not exist.
Who are our Volunteers?
A little less than two-thirds of the volunteers are active duty military. The remainder are made up of either retired military or civilian employees of base contractor or military organizations. Of course, anyone who volunteers must have an ID to get on base. Although many of our retirees have a good deal of tax experience, most of our volunteers have had no prior experience preparing tax returns or working in a tax office.
There are no requirements for volunteers. No prior knowledge or experience is necessary in order to sign up. However, those who will eventually prepare tax returns are expected to successfully learn basic tax principles, and be able to pass a proficiency test after they've completed an on-base IRS-sponsored training class. Since tax returns are prepared using computers, they are also expected to have at least a basic knowledge of using a computer keyboard as well as a mouse -- nothing fancy. Finally, volunteers are expected to commit to at least 40 hours of work during the tax season. This 40 hours translates to about one-half day per week.
Note that some volunteers do not do tax returns. Rather they answer phones, schedule clients, file papers and generally provide administrative support to others involved in the tax center operation .
What About Training?
For those interested in preparing tax returns, the successful completion of an IRS-sponsored training class (or its equivalent) is required each year. The bottom line is that the IRS requires all VITA volunteer tax preparers to take and pass a certification test each year. This class is probably the best way to reach that objective.
Where is the Training Held?
For the most part all classes are held in the Distance Learning Center in the C Wing of building 20604 at M and Wyoming.
How Do I Sign Up?
During recruiting season, which starts in late October or early November of each year, you need to get in touch with the Tax Center manager.