Become a Free Community Tax Service Hero!
Interested in helping low- and moderate-income resident file their taxes for free and claim valuable tax credits? United Way of Monroe County and the Free Community Tax Service (FCTS) Team are seeking Tax Preparers to serve at Free Community Tax Service sites in Monroe and Owen counties. The Free Community Tax Service provides free federal and state income tax preparation to local residents from January to April 2017. Volunteers work in an exciting, professional environment, screen clients in an intake and interview process, and prepare tax returns. Volunteers will receive training in income tax law and tax preparation to become IRS-certified.
The Free Community Tax Service helps residents file federal and state returns for no charge, claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, if eligible, and receive 100 percent of their refund quickly and easily, typically in ten days or less. Last year's efforts helped residents file over 3,000 tax returns. Low- and moderate-income residents in Monroe and Owen counties saved over $925,000 in tax preparation fees, allowing individuals to put the money saved toward important expenses like rent, groceries, utilities, and education.
Volunteers do not need to have any prior experience with preparing taxes, and will receive training and support in a positive, team-based environment.
After successfully completing one year of service as a Tax Preparer, volunteers are able to serve as Site Coordinators. Site Coordinators will manage Free Community Tax Service site operations and volunteers, conduct quality reviews of returns, and assist in the electronic filing of their federal and Indiana tax returns.
Recruitment of Volunteer Tax Preparers runs through November. Please know that spots for the upcoming tax season are typically filled by mid-December.
United Way works with member agencies and community partners to bring lasting change and improve people’s lives. We focus on the building blocks for a better life: Education for life and career, Earnings that allow people of all ages and abilities to be self-sufficient, and the Essentials such as access to food, housing, health care, and emergency services.
The goals of the Free Community Tax Service program are three-fold:
- Promote tax understanding and awareness
- Prepare accurate tax returns for free for qualified taxpayers
- Encourage personal asset building, beginning with tax incentives
Tax Preparers will work indoors in an office environment. The majority of work will be performed at the Free Community Tax Service sites with fellow volunteers under the supervision of a Site Coordinator. Free Community Tax Service sites are located at organizations throughout Monroe and Owen counties.
Free Community Tax Service Tax Preparers prepare tax returns for taxpayers (tax returns are typically simple 1040 or 1040-EZ), answering taxpayers’ questions and maintaining confidentiality. The position requires the use of computer equipment and software, professional interactions with other volunteers and program staff, and the application of high ethical standards and adherence to Internal Revenue Service policies, procedures, and guidelines.
Volunteers are eligible to become Site Coordinators after completing one year of service as a Tax Preparer. The Free Community Tax Service Site Coordinator manages all aspects of the Free Community Tax Service site operations to ensure fair and high quality service to clients, appropriate application of tax law when preparing federal and state income tax returns, and compliance with IRS privacy and confidentiality agreements when administrating electronic tax returns. The position requires the use of computer equipment and software, professional management and interactions with volunteers and program staff, and the application of high ethical standards and adherence to Internal Revenue Service policies, procedures, and guidelines. Tasks include:
- Work with United Way and host site to schedule dates and times the Free Community Tax Service site will be operational
- Manage a small group of volunteers to work at site, including a volunteer work schedule
- Set up and operate laptop computers and printers and address related IT challenges
- Conduct intake interviews with clients
- Prepare state and federal tax returns
- Conduct quality reviews of tax returns
- Maintain relationship with United Way of Monroe County, host site liaisons, and local IRS office for obtaining site materials and other pertinent information
- Ensure adherence to IRS policies, procedures, and guidelines
Skills and Qualifications
- Interest in learning more about income tax law
- Strong computer skills
- Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
- Strong organizational and management skills
- Ability to work independently
- Ability to work well with diverse populations
- Strong communication skills; specifically the ability to translate tax law into understandable concepts for clients and other volunteers
- English language fluency
Both levels of volunteers are required to:
- Complete all IRS training and certification requirements (about 10 hours with additional training on your own time)
- Pass an IRS certification exam through the Intermediate Level
Tax Preparers must additionally:
- Maintain communication with the Site Coordinator
- Be on-site during your scheduled volunteer shifts
Site coordinators must additionally:
- Attend an IRS-sponsored Site Coordinator training session
- Maintain communication with the site liaison, United Way of Monroe County, and your site volunteers
- Be on-site during all Free Community Tax Service site hours of operation and additional hours as necessary
Timeline and Time Commitment
- Training and certification will occur the first three weeks in January. Required training will take about 10 hours with additional training on your own time.
- The Free Community Tax Service Site Coordinator will work 10 to 15 hours a week at the Free Community Tax Service site.
- The Free Community Tax Service Tax Preparer has more flexibility with hours, but is encouraged to work at least 3 hours per week.
As the Free Community Tax Service Site Coordinator sets the site’s hours of operation, the Site Coordinator has the flexibility of determining specific days and hours, as well as the number of weeks the site will be in operation (a minimum of 6 weeks is required, with most sites operating 8 to 10 weeks).
- You will receive training in tax preparation
- You will become IRS certified to prepare federal and state tax returns
- You will gain valuable real-world experience preparing tax returns, serving clients, and networking with community members to make a measureable impact in our community!
- Mileage reimbursement will be provided for site coordinators and tax preparers working outside of Bloomington
Additional Site Coordinator benefits:
- You will receive training in quality control
- You will gain experience setting up a free tax return site and managing volunteers
Continuing Education Credits are available for eligible professionals serving in the Free Community Tax Service. For more information, see the IRS 2017 CE Fact Sheet.
FCTS Volunteer Coordinator Name and Contact Information
Amy Leyenbeck, Community Initiatives Director
United Way of Monroe County
441 South College Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47403
amy [at] monroeunitedway.org
812-334-8370 x 11
Want to help strengthen the earnings potential in our community?
Please consider donating to the United Way Earnings Priority Fund. This fund helps hard working individuals and families get ahead by increasing their job skills and income potential, providing financial education, and building economic stability and independence.