Volunteer for Free Tax Prep

COVID-19 Update

United Way of King County’s priority is the continued safety of our volunteers, staff and clients. The upcoming Free Tax Preparation Campaign season will largely offer virtual/remote services, with the potential of limited in-person opportunities that adhere to all public health guidelines.


Volunteer & Fight Poverty

From January through April, United Way of King County volunteers will offer free virtual tax preparation assistance for people in the community.

There are two volunteer opportunities, both of which are critical to success:

Remote Tax Preparation Specialists

Remote Tax Preparation Specialists will be trained and IRS certified to remotely prepare tax returns for people, making sure they receive all the credits they are eligible for. Volunteers will do this online from the comfort of their own home computers. There will be two volunteer lengths—a full season opportunity (Jan.-Apr.) and a partial season opportunity for those who have volunteered with us before.

Community Intake Specialists

Community Intake Specialists will help operate some low-contact, in-person intake sites across King County. These volunteers will receive the same high-end training and will be helping clients facing barriers accessing virtual tax preparation services by uploading clients’ intake form and tax paperwork. This will be done while following all the latest health safety guidance from our local authorities. This role will be for individuals who are comfortable providing low-contact, in-person support. Site locations for Community Intake positions are currently TBD, but United Way will update volunteers as soon as decisions are made.

Every remote shift will be supported by Remote Tax Service Managers who review volunteer work, ensures all returns are done correctly, answers questions and keeps things running smoothly.


How it Works


United Way’s Free Tax Preparation Campaign provides high-quality free tax preparation services to individuals and families, leveraging powerful anti-poverty tax credits to ensure hard-working people get every dollar they deserve. This effort is powered by volunteers who are trained and IRS certified.

United Way is committed to continuing these efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic with both virtual and limited in-person opportunities.

The upcoming 2021 tax season presents unique challenges as communities face heightened needs because of the economic impacts of COVID-19. Anti-poverty tools like the Earned Income Tax Credit will be critical for many families struggling to keep food on the table and the lights turned on.

With your help we can fight poverty and serve more people than ever this year!


What it Takes


You do not need any prior knowledge or training to volunteer, just some familiarity with navigating online software and virtual communication platforms. The most important things are to have a friendly attitude, flexibility, technological savvy and a willingness to commit to four hours a week.

  • Remote Tax Preparation Specialists will safely be at home using their personal computers and interacting with clients virtually through a custom-built, highly secure tool. You will receive training on a vetted, virtual tax preparation platform that has helped prepare thousands of high-quality tax returns.
  • Community Intake Specialists will receive the same high-end training on technology and the custom-built, highly secure tool as Remote Tax Preparation Specialists, though the focus for Community Intake Specialists will be to provide low-contact, in-person assistance to clients. United Way staff are still assessing specific needs and shifts for this role and will update the website when these become available.

As a volunteer you will be fighting poverty by helping neighbors in your community get the tax returns and credits they are entitled to while ensuring their safety and well-being during the pandemic. Ability to speak another language is helpful, but not required. Languages in high demand include Spanish, Amharic, Vietnamese, Chinese, Russian and Tagalog.

Be a Remote Tax Specialist

Be a Community Intake Specialist

Once you sign up to volunteer you will receive a confirmation email and a welcome packet in the mail with resources for your service. Your confirmation email will provide more guidance for receiving training, taking your exam and working with your team.

Thank you for considering being part of the United Way of King County Free Tax Preparation Campaign!

Still have questions? Check out the FAQs below. If you do not find an answer to your question, email us at freetax@uwkc.org


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, four hour shift per week. If you are a returning volunteer, you will have the option of signing up for a partial eight week shift or a full season shift this upcoming season.

What is the time commitment? And, when does the position start and end?

There will be several options. Our tax season will start the week of January 11 for Remote Tax Preparation Specialists and will end on April 18, 2021. The minimum commitment is one, four hour shift per week. If you are a returning volunteer, you will have the option of signing up for a partial eight week shift or a full season shift this upcoming season.

Community Intake Volunteers may be invited in mid-December 2020 to pick up devices that they will use for intake. United Way staff are still assessing specific needs and shifts for this role and will update the website when these become available.

If you have questions after signing up, please contact freetax@uwkc.org.

What happens after I register?

After you register, you will receive a welcome packet that will include your Volunteer Resource Guide (IRS Publication 4012) and other service items. Please be on the look out for a package that is larger than a standard envelope.

Will there be in-person training?

In response to COVID-19, our number one priority is your safety and well-being. We are shifting to all-virtual training for the Remote Tax Preparation Specialist position. Training will include online tax law training through the IRS and “virtual on-site” training during your first shift of the season. More details about training will be provided after registration.

Training needs for other potential volunteer positions are still being assessed. Any in-person event will be scrutinized by staff trained in risk assessment and COVID-19 safety protocols and aligned with the safety measures that will meet or go beyond the standards of our local government authorities.

How long will training take?

Tax law training will be mostly independent study with resources and materials that we will provide. You will use online IRS training to take your exam and certify in tax law. The training modules usually become available in mid-November and United Way will communicate the process for training when it becomes available.

How do I access online IRS training?

Online IRS training is brought to you by Link and Learn Taxes and it is a self-paced e-learning platform. You will need to create an account on https://apps.irs.gov/app/vita/ to access the training materials and your exam. If you need help creating or navigating this platform please read more information on the Get Started Tutorial. The training modules usually become available in mid-November and United Way will communicate the process for training when it becomes available.

What kind of equipment do I need for training and my tax preparation volunteer role?

With this season being largely virtual, we are asking for volunteers to use their personal technology at home for their volunteer role. You will need a laptop or desktop computer and a secure internet connection. Your computer needs to be capable of using Google Chrome (latest 2 versions), Slack, Google Voice, Microsoft Teams and various teleconference tools such as Zoom and GoToMeeting. You will need a headset if your computer’s microphone is not suitable for you. Additionally, if you have access to a second screen that would be helpful for your service, but it is not required.

What if I don’t have a computer?

Due to high demand we will not be able guarantee the option to supply any computers for your remote service, but our stock of loanable equipment is subject to change so please email freetax@uwkc.org for guidance.

Will I need to buy any software?

You do not need to buy any software. All remote positions will be provided with the software and licensing needed to work effectively.

Will I need to serve in-person?

Service will be primarily remote from the comfort of your homes, but we acknowledge that we have community members who face extreme barriers and may experience challenges when accessing this online service.

To help reduce barriers and increase access, we are exploring limited in-person options for volunteers to help clients upload tax paperwork. All in-person events will be scrutinized by staff trained in risk assessment and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for safety measures that will meet or go beyond the standards of our local government authorities.

What security steps is United Way taking to ensure my privacy and my clients’ privacy?

You will be joining a program that has taken security protocols seriously since 2003. When the program shifted to virtual operations during the emergency shutdowns due to COVID-19, privacy and security were some of the main elements we focused on to ensure volunteer privacy and client privacy was centered in our planning.

United Way is actively working with our partners at Code for America around security functions of the online platform and will be providing detailed instructions around expected policies and protocols before the tax season begins.

How will I communicate with my clients? What does this process look like from their end?

United Way is still developing our client intake process. We plan to have staff dedicated to scheduling and coordinating your appointments with clients. All you have to do is show up to your shift, log in to all the appropriate platforms, and start making your calls to begin the tax preparation process. To call your clients, you will need a free Google Voice account with a phone number. We will provide training and instructions if you are not familiar with Google Voice.

Are there still separate intake and quality review positions?

All Remote Tax Preparation Specialists will be responsible for completing Intake Interviews prior to preparing the taxes. If you have volunteered with us before, we may request your help to do Quality Reviews.

Who are my coworkers? Will I get to meet them?

You are not alone! Just as in the past, you will be part of a massive community effort across King County to help people access powerful anti-poverty tax credits and build their wealth. The only difference is that remote positions will be from the comfort and safety of your home. You will be assigned to a team based off your shift and you will serve with this team each week. You will also have Tax Service Managers that will guide, mentor and help you along your way and ensure your tax returns are accurate and high-quality.

We will use the latest communication tools and software such as Slack and Microsoft Teams to connect with each other each day to share stories, ask for help and build our virtual community.

How do I get help from my Tax Service Manager?

Your Tax Service Manager will be available via phone, email or instant message. We will be using Slack and Microsoft Teams in our virtual community. Your Tax Service Manager will give you guidance your first week about escalating tax issues and where to find resources for common questions.

Can we help with other issues, like the CARES Economic Impact Payment?

Yes! You will be helping thousands of people facing extreme barriers and hardships due to COVID-19 who qualify for the “Stimulus Payment” CARES Economic Impact Payment. We will share further guidance during your training.

Any tips for keeping track of my volunteer hours?

There will be several options where you can track your volunteer hours. The most common method will be to use your account in GetConnected, or you can track them in templates we can provide. Your Tax Service Manager will be able to offer guidance regarding volunteer hours.

What are the benefits of volunteering?

You will be part of one of the largest and most powerful anti-poverty campaigns in the country. Your role will be in critical service to the community during one of the most challenging years due to COVID-19. On top of that, you will be trained on critical skills to be an effective remote volunteer that aligns with the needs of the current job market.


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