Frequently Asked Questions - Volunteers
No, you do not need to submit a resume to become a Volunteer Tax Preparer.
First, check your non-Baruch email you provided on the application form. We don't use your Baruch email. Second, make sure it is more than 10 days since you signed up. Then, write us an email asking what happened. Please do NOT sign up again. It will make our life just more miserable, you will get 2 volunteer ID's, you will get confused and our records are going to be screwed up. Just email, we will investigate, but most likely we are just battling a backlog.
Due to the fact that a number of people will have similar last names, once we accept your application, you will be assigned a four-digit Volunteer ID. Please memorize it as you will be asked to provide it to help us process your emails, test submissions and other random pieces of paper, with ease. Your Volunteer ID will be posted on our website under Volunteer ⇒ Registered ⇒ Downloads
from the top navigation.
We can only train a certain number of people. Once we have reached our quota, all others will be waitlisted for a training slot. Spaces are filling up fast so please APPLY NOW. Keep in mind that you have to read the VITA textbook and complete an online multiple-choice exam prior to coming to the training. We cannot provide you with materials unless you register online.
Although most of our volunteers are Accounting majors, students from all majors, backgrounds and walks of life are encouraged to apply. We will teach you everything you need to know. What we ask from you is dedication, effort, and initiative.
Of course! There is no reason why you cannot participate. Some of our officers are also international students. In fact, you might be even a better volunteer: international students are subject to special taxation rules and you, being able to relate personally, could better serve the international student body at Baruch.
In previous years, we had taken in volunteers even if they were not Baruch students. However, Baruch's Public Safety is now strictly enforcing their policy so we are no longer able to provide guest access into the Baruch College campus. You can find other VITA programs by calling 311 and asking for the official list of all VITA sites in New York City.
The exact dates are posted under the Training
section. The mandatory will be held during the weekends of January.
Yes. Baruch VITA prepares the returns by hand - it is a completely different experience than preparing returns using a software. Also, there are plenty of VITA-specific things that you will have to know. Therefore, you must come to the training.
If you are a returning volunteer, please email
us to see if arrangements can be made. If you are a new volunteer, then we are afraid you cannot take part in the program for the upcoming tax season. Taxation is a complicated subject and we don't think you will be able to learn it all by yourself. Due to limited resources we cannot offer make up training or exams. Please try again next season.
We ask you to commit at least 3 hours a week and prepare at least one return per shift. You can volunteer longer hours if you wish. However, we do ask you to stick to your schedule. We know you have midterms and real life to take care of (so do we), but it is really really important to show up during the assigned time.
For external sites, we prefer that you come in for 3 consecutive hours in one day. External sites usually operate only 2 or 3 days a week and there are less opportunities to make up for missed hours. Also, you would be wasting your time traveling back and forth for just an hour or two. At the Baruch site, things are more flexible, and you can use a gap between your classes to volunteer for VITA.
In late January you will be assigned to a time slot in one of our sites. For instance, if you are assigned to FOCUS site in Flushing from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Saturdays, you will physically go there and spend 3 hours doing the tax returns. Clients will come to the site with all their information and forms. You will take the forms, interview the client, and prepare the tax return right in front of them. While you doing it, you should explain what you do and why you do or don't do something. Remember, one of our missions is to educate the taxpayers. You finish the return, make sure the taxpayer signs it, put it in a pre-printed envelope and instruct the client either how to write a check for taxes owed or when to expect a refund. We do not offer any kind of drop-off services. Our trainers and site managers will help prepare you during trainings and on-the-job.
Our hours are flexible and you don't have to decide anything right now. Our home location at Baruch College will operate on weekdays for most of the day. Our external locations operate mostly on Fridays and weekends. In January, when you will know more about your schedule for Spring, you will be asked for your top 3 site preferences and will be assigned according to those as well as our needs. Those who spend the effort to assist us with marketing, training and site management will get preferential treatment.
No, you are not liable as long as you, as an unpaid volunteer, do not sign any returns you prepare. The client takes all the responsibility and risk. However, please mind that these are real people, real tax returns, and real money. If you don't know something, it's a lot better to say, "Sorry, I think you should go to a paid preparer," than try to make something up and get the person in trouble.
No. You never sign a return you prepare as a Volunteer Tax Preparer, not even if the client demands it. The only identification you put down is a site identification number, S followed by 8 digits which will be provided to you by the Site Manager. The number allows the IRS to track progress of all VITA Programs nationwide.