Engaging our community to end poverty

Tax Site Volunteer

Tax Site Volunteers Needed
Community Action Duluth’s Free Tax Site team runs on the energy, heart and commitment of many volunteers. You can help in a variety of ways.

  • Greet and register customers.
  • Screen customers, helping them complete the intake process.
  • Prepare tax returns using cloud-based software.
  • Review tax returns for quality and accuracy.
  • Assemble tax returns and conduct the client exit process.

Our clients generally lack access to affordable, professional tax preparation. One hour of your time can put an average of $1,750 in the pockets of individuals and families with low and moderate incomes.

For details on volunteering, see our Frequently Asked Questions below.

To join our team, start by filling out our online volunteer application.

Attention Volunteers
The 2019 Tax Site Volunteer Training Schedule is here.

You will also find the 2019 Volunteer Orientation Schedule and Preparer Training Plan here.

How to connect
Contact us at 218.726.1665, ext. 225 or by email at julia@communityactionduluth.org. We are happy to talk to you about volunteer opportunities and to answer your questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Free Tax Site?

The Free Tax Site is one of Community Action Duluth’s core programs. It engages dedicated, skilled volunteers who provide tax preparation assistance to families and individuals with limited resources. We operate with technical support from the IRS VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program and Prepare+Prosper. In 2018 the tax site helped 1,320 households and individuals claim over $2.3 million in refunds!

Who will I be helping?

Individuals and families with annual income up to $56,000 are eligible to use the tax site. The average income of our customers in 2018 was $16,611 and 74% of our families have income below 200% of federal poverty guidelines. We serve many seniors, people with disabilities and people who live in group homes or adult foster care. A fifth of our customers are people of color. Our clients generally have little access to affordable, professional tax preparation.

What will I do if I prepare taxes?

You will prepare federal, state and property tax returns for tax year 2018 using TaxSlayer Pro Online™ software under the supervision of Community Action Duluth site coordinators. The site coordinators and experienced volunteers are available to assist you and to review your work. Tax clinics run January 28 — April 15, 2019 (regular season) and April 30 — June 26, 2019 (post-season).

What will I do if I do not prepare taxes?

There are many other opportunities to help. Site assistants greet our customers and sign them in. They meet individually with taxpayers to review their income documents, verify their identity and complete the intake process. Assistants also assemble completed tax returns to provide clients with their own hard copies.

What difference will I make?

One hour of your time can put an average of $1,750 in the pockets of low- and moderate-income families and individuals. You will help our clients claim refundable tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Minnesota Working Family Credit. These credits can be claimed even if a person owes no tax. Taxpayers may also be able to utilize child tax credits and education credits to offset their tax bill. Every volunteer on our team plays a crucial role, and your participation at the tax site can help boost a person’s annual income by as much as 50%.

What specific training will I receive?

A first-year tax preparer completes 12–16 classroom hours of IRS-mandated training in January prior to serving at a tax clinic. Experienced volunteers take the same 12–16 hours of training online or in class, to receive updates on the most current and relevant changes to state and federal tax law. Training and practice in using the tax preparation software are provided. Assistants train in tax site procedures. All volunteer assistants, preparers, and reviewers train and certify in volunteer standards of conduct (ethics and confidentiality). An optional training, “Tax Basics for Beginners,” is recommended to new preparers and all assistants.

Do I have to be a tax professional to help?

NO. Volunteers receive all training necessary for their position. A background in tax preparation or experience in preparing your own personal return is helpful but not required. Volunteer preparers must pass an IRS certification test.

What should I wear to the tax site?

Casual dress is fine. Please be respectful of the clients, other volunteers and the agency. Remember you represent Community Action Duluth to the public, including clients and volunteers. We also provide an official long or short-sleeved cotton T-shirt with the tax site logo to each certified volunteer.

Does Community Action Duluth file client returns?

For Electronic Filing (e-File): YES. Site coordinators complete the electronic filing of federal, state and property tax returns at our office. We provide taxpayers with one free paper copy of each return we file for them.

For Paper Filing: NO. Site coordinators provide the taxpayer with one copy each of the federal, state and/or property tax return and envelopes for filing the returns. For each payment due, we provide a payment voucher and mailing envelope. The taxpayer is responsible for mailing the return(s). Taxpayers receive a second hard copy for their own records.

Are we liable if we make a mistake on a client's return?

NO. We operate under the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. We take the information that individuals provide and complete tax returns to the best of our abilities. All tax returns are reviewed by an experienced tax preparer certified to be a reviewer, ensuring the highest accuracy of the return prior to e-filing it on behalf of the client. We do not sign the tax return but

indicate a VITA program number on the return. Ultimately, individual taxpayers are fully responsible for the content of their tax returns.

Do I need to bring anything to the tax site?

No, although you may prefer to bring your own calculator, pen or pencil and training resource materials to reference at the site. You will be provided with resource materials at your first training session.

What if I know an organization interested in getting more information or seeing a presentation about volunteering at the tax site?

Contact Community Action Duluth Manager of Tax Services & Development Julia Cheng by email at julia@communityactionduluth.org or by phone at 218-726-1665, ext. 225. We can tailor the new volunteer orientation to your business or civic organization.

How do I get more information about volunteering at Community Action Duluth?

Again, contact us at 218-726-1665, ext. 225 or by email at julia@communityactionduluth.org. We would be happy to talk with you about volunteer opportunities or answer specific questions.