Take A Stand Against Poverty

Tackle inequality head-on as a United Way VITA volunteer!

What would you do with an extra month’s worth of income each year? It seems like a dream, especially with today’s rising costs. But this is a real question that many of King County’s lowest-income households will answer when they file their tax returns.

Unfortunately, tax preparation software and professional tax preparers exist behind a paywall that keeps their services out of reach for the most disadvantaged members of our community. As a result, the benefits they provide in the form of tax refunds can be unreachable. But YOU can change that.

By volunteering with United Way of King County’s Free Tax Preparation Campaign team, you will join your neighbors to break down that paywall and help people maximize refunds through accurate filing and tax credits. With your help, people will have money for food, rent, childcare and other essentials.

We’re hiring Tax Site Managers! Click below to apply.


Get Involved


Onsite Tax Preparer

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Onsite Intake Volunteer

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Remote Tax Volunteer

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How It Works


United Way’s Free Tax Preparation Campaign is an IRS-funded VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program. Every year, from January to April, UWKC deploys hundreds of tax volunteers just like you to tax sites operating across Seattle and King County.

This year, the Campaign turns 20! The Campaign began in 2003 with a single tax site in White Center and has grown to include more than a dozen tax sites plus virtual tax help. To date, we’ve served more than 150,000 clients and distributed more than $200 million in refunds, of which $62 million was in Earned Income Tax Credits and $70 million was in Child Tax Credits. This 2023 tax season will also be an important year, as the Working Family’s Tax Credit is set to launch, and United Way is committed to helping as many people as possible receive the credit.

Whether you’re a long-time volunteer or someone who’s never so much as self-filed their taxes, there’s a place for you on our volunteer team. We will empower you with the training, tools and support you need to complete your IRS VITA certification.

The idea of handling a stranger’s (or a friend’s!) tax situation may seem intimidating, but our experienced team of staff, site managers and experienced volunteers will all be here to help you learn. And if you’d like to be involved but don’t want to do taxes, that’s no problem! Our team of intake volunteers is just as important as our tax preparers.


Where Can I Serve This Year?


Please see the map below to view the tax site locations and shift hours we will have available in the 2023 tax season.


General FAQs


How many shifts do I need to sign up for, and how long are they?

You can sign up for as many shifts as you want! The minimum commitment is one shift per week. Typically, shifts are four hours long, but they vary by site.

When does the position start and end?

Our tax season will start January 9 and will end on April 20, 2023.

I’m worried I don’t know enough about taxes to participate in this program and I might end up messing up somebody’s return. What kind of background are you looking for in a volunteer?

You don’t need to have a background in taxes to participate, though it’s helpful if you’re familiar with the process of tax filing and what basic tax statuses mean. Our sites are designed to filter all returns prepared through a quality review station and we encourage new volunteers to ask experienced volunteers or site managers questions. However, if you don’t feel comfortable, that’s okay! The intake role does not require any tax preparation, and we need folks at the intake desk just as much as tax preparers.

What kind of equipment do I need to participate in the Free Tax Preparation Campaign?

If you are interested in in-person tax preparation, all supplies (including a computer) will be provided to you. If you are interested in volunteering remotely, you must be a prior-year volunteer (either a remote or in-person volunteer) who has participated in the Campaign within any previous year. You will also need constant access to a personal computer, a phone and a stable password-protected internet connection.

What if I don’t have a computer or don’t feel comfortable using my phone?

If you do not have a computer or feel comfortable using a phone to contact clients, please consider becoming an in-person tax preparation specialist. You must have access to a computer to be a remote tax preparer. Please note: you will not have to use your personal phone number to call clients in the virtual tax environment. Phone calls are conducted via VoIP/third-party link.

Will I need to buy any software to participate in the Free Tax Preparation Campaign?

No.

I’m a prior-year volunteer and I’m interested in applying to become a site manager. Would that be possible?

Yes. We would love to talk to you about this! Please apply HERE.

I’m an attorney, enrolled agent (EA), CPA, and/or CFP. Does this program offer Continuing Education Credits?

Yes. You can earn a maximum of 15 Continuing Education Credits through VITA service.

Questions Regarding Training


How does training work this year? Is there an option to train virtually? If I train virtually, do I need to go to a physical, in-person training?

All new volunteers will have to train in-person at one of our two-day trainings to ensure you get the best possible training experience. These trainings are 8 hours long (from 8a.m.-4p.m.), each day, and will be held at South Seattle College. If you are a returning volunteer and wish to train virtually, you will be able to select that option when you register for training and we will send you the Link & Learn links, 4012, and any requested tax materials (once they are available).

I’m a returning volunteer and I would like to self-certify. How do I access online IRS training?

Currently, the IRS has not indicated when their training materials will be released. When you register, please indicate that you would like to self-certify and we will contact you once the IRS makes these materials available.

Is there a deadline for obtaining virtual training certification?

Yes. You must have obtained your certification before you can volunteer for the tax campaign, either virtually or in-person. Please complete your training before January 9, 2023.

I can’t commit to a two-day training on the same weekend. Can I attend Saturday and Sunday training sessions on different weeks?

Yes. Please select your preferred days when you register for training.

I’m a new volunteer and I can’t attend any of the in-person training dates. Would I still be able to be trained and participate on the Campaign?

This is possible on a case-by-case basis. Someone from our team will have to contact you to assess your situation, then put you in contact with the site manager of the site you’d like to volunteer at and determine if they have the capacity to train you onsite. Please be aware that this may not be possible to accommodate and we recommend that you sign up for an intake volunteer role, which does not require extensive training.

I’m coming into the season late and I’ve missed all the offered training days. Would I still be able to be trained and participate on the Campaign?

This is possible on a case-by-case basis. Someone from our team will have to contact you to assess your situation, then put you in contact with the site manager of the site you’d like to volunteer at and determine if they have the capacity to train you onsite. Please be aware that this may not be possible to accommodate and we recommend that you sign up for an intake volunteer role, which does not require extensive training.

What if I fail the IRS Link and Learn certification test?

You have two attempts to complete certification correctly. You must score above 80% to pass. If you do not feel confident in retaking the test, please contact us so that we may connect you with a trainer and additional resources.

How is intake training going to work this year?

We will have two in-person training opportunities you can choose from, on December 10 or January 7, from 8a.m.-12p.m. If you’re a returning volunteer and do not wish to attend this training, or if you cannot attend either training date, please indicate this on your training sign-up sheet.

Questions Regarding COVID-19


Am I required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate in the Free Tax Preparation Campaign?

Yes. You are considered fully vaccinated if it has been at least 2 weeks since you got your first J&J shot or your second Pfizer or Moderna shot. Per current CDC guidelines, we do not require participants to have received the boosters, though we strongly recommend that you do.

Will masking be required for in-person volunteers and/or clients?

Not all sites will have mask requirements. However, due to safety concerns expressed by some volunteers, we will have some sites with more stringent health protocols, to include required masking by all clients and volunteers. Please view the site details to see which sites will have these protocols.

What will the Campaign do to address health and safety concerns regarding COVID-19 at tax sites?

The Campaign will constantly monitor health protocol recommendations made by King County Public Health and the CDC and adjust our protocols accordingly. Additionally, we will provide the following:

  • A limited number of sites will have more stringent health protocols in place (please view site details to see where these protocols will be applied).
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided at all tax preparation and intake stations.
  • We have discussed air filtration with all the organizations we partner with. For sites without modern HVAC, we will provide standing air filtration.
  • We will continue having reduced room capacity at all sites where we are able to enforce this.
  • We will have spit guards and masks available for all volunteers and staff who would prefer to use them.

Are you requiring tax clients to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to receive tax services?

At this time, we are not requiring clients to provide proof of vaccination to come to our sites.

I’m a new volunteer but I don’t feel safe volunteering at an in-person site this year. Would I be able to participate as a remote volunteer?

If you’re a new volunteer who’s interested in volunteering with us remotely, you would be able to join us as a remote intake volunteer. Please visit the remote intake volunteer page (linked above) for more information. This role will not involve tax preparation.

Still on the Fence About Volunteering?


Here are four more reasons to join the tax team:

Although filing taxes often causes stress, anxiety and fear, effective use of the federal tax code is one of the best ways to lift low-income households—many of whom are Black, Indigenous or people of color—out of poverty.

United Way has a long history of influencing policy reform through advocacy. When it comes to taxes, the Free Tax Prep Campaign is one of the main ways we learn what works for and against our community members. Your experience as a volunteer and the client stories you will collect are critical to United Way’s advocacy for necessary systemic changes.

As United Way’s longest-running community service initiative, the Free Tax Prep Campaign is an expansive network of volunteers—many of whom return to volunteer each tax season. The opportunity to connect with other passionate individuals is one of the reasons many former volunteers keep coming back.

Whether you’re working toward an accounting/finance career or you’re interested in trying out the nonprofit sector, volunteering with the tax team is a great way to gain valuable experience. Are you a student? Students can earn up to 14 continuing education credits toward their degree.

Questions? Email us at freetax@uwkc.org. We hope to see you join this pivotal anti-poverty program!

Sponsor Free Tax Preparation


The Free Tax Prep Campaign is generously sponsored by:

Free Tax Prep 2022 Sonsors: City of Seattle, Seattle Credit Union, IRS e-file