VITA Program

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What is the volunteer application process?


A:  Once the volunteer application has been completed and submitted, we will review your registration. Information on how to complete Live Scan and background information will then be sent to you, in which you will take to the nearest available Sheriff Department and pay $42.  Once cleared, volunteers will then be scheduled for trainings and assigned to a site.


Q:  What is the Live Scan and why do I have to do it?  I just did mine for another agency, could I use that one?


A:  Riverside County employees are exempt from performing the Live Scan.  All other volunteers must be livescanned to volunteer in Riverside County, per Board of Supervisor ordinance.  Live Scan's in Riverside County are performed by Sheriff Departments and submitted to the Department of Justice to look for specific offenses.  In addition, Live Scan's cannot be shared from external agencies.  For instance, if you performed a Live Scan for your job, we are unable to use it as a clearance for this volunteer position.


Q:  Do I need to submit a resume or have previous tax preparation experience?


A:  No, you do not need to submit a resume or have previous tax preparation experience.  Training is provided free of charge to all volunteers who participate in the program.


Q:  How much accounting or tax knowledge do I have to have?


A: You do not need to have any experience or background to volunteer for VITA. . Interested people from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply. All volunteers, regardless of background or experience, are required to become VITA certified prior to the start of the tax season. We will provide you with everything you need to know, all we ask in return is your dedication.


Q:  How does volunteering work?  How do I get the information needed to prepare individual tax returns?  Will I interact with taxpayers?


A:  In early January you will be scheduled to prepare taxes at one of our sites. When you show up to the site you must bring your name badge, volunteer reference manuals, and Form 13615 Volunteer Agreement. Once on site, taxpayers will sign in to the site with all of their information and necessary documents. Packets and forms will be issued to the client and a Screener will conduct an intake interview to ensure the client has provided all necessary information. Once the intake interview has been completed, the taxpayer’s return will be added to the queue to be prepared. The return will then be prepared by a Certified IRS Tax Preparer and reviewed by a Quality Reviewer. The return is then signed by the taxpayer and the process at the site is complete. Site Coordinators are responsible for the site operations and to assist with any issues or concerns that may arise. While we prefer our Site Coordinators to manage and lead the site, there is an occasional instance where there is a need for them to provide coverage for the other positions. All materials and forms needed to prepare tax returns are provided to each site and restocked when needed.


Q:  What are the training dates?


A:  Training dates and locations have been arranged at locations throughout the county and will be released in November.


Q:  What is the minimum commitment?


A:  We ask that our volunteers commit a minimum of 35 hours at the volunteer sites over the course of the tax season. The 35 hours can be comprised of any combination of hours worked at sites; three hours one Friday and five hours the following Saturday (and so on) is a perfectly acceptable way of completing the minimum requirement. You can always work more than the 35 hours if you wish. Volunteers are encouraged to certify to the ADVANCED level, however, at minimum, you can certify to BASIC to participate.


Q:  If I make a mistake on a return, am I liable?


A:  No, you are not liable.  As an unpaid volunteer, you do not sign returns you prepare.  For this reason, the taxpayer takes all the responsibility.  However, it is important that our volunteers keep in mind that taxpayers are real people, with real tax returns and real money.  It is far better to advise a taxpayer that their return is too complex for our program and that they should seek assistance from a more experienced preparer, than attempt to complete the return and create problems for the client further down the road.


Q:  I see there are locations listed all over Riverside County. If I volunteer and live in Riverside, will I be required to drive all the way to Indio or even Blythe to prepare tax returns or attend trainings?


A:  Our tax preparation locations are strategically placed throughout the county in order to maximize the amount of people and families we serve. That said we do not expect our volunteers to drive long distances. Trainings are offered in various geographic locations in order to make it easier and more convenient for the volunteers to attend. During the tax season, volunteers are placed at sites based on preferences listed on their original application.


Q:  When is the last day to apply to take part in the 2016-2017 VITA program?


A:  While there is no deadline to apply, for training purposes we ask that our volunteers apply as soon as possible.  Our goal is to have all volunteers live scanned, trained and certified by January 25.  As we get closer to the start of tax season, training opportunities are limited and volunteers may be required to self-train.   


Q:  Do I need to sign up for both trainings?


A:  Volunteers may attend as many software sessions as needed in order to reach competency and comfort to certifying to the ADVANCED level. All training information is available on http:/


Q:  What if I have more questions?


A:  Our inbox is open 24/7. Send us an email at and we will get back to you. If you’d rather call and talk to us in person, please feel free to contact Charles Clinton at (951) 955 - 6488.