Spring 2013 VITA Information
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a tax return preparation course Loyola administers with its partners, the Internal Revenue Service and the California Office of the State Controller. Returns are usually prepared for students, elderly taxpayers and working taxpayers who would otherwise have to pay private services up to $85 or more for tax preparation services. The basic features of the one or two unit course are:
- The basic course is a one-unit externship course. You may enroll in a two unit course, but you will be working exclusively with the Office of the California State Controller if you choose the two unit option.
- Completion of either the one or two unit courses automatically satisfies the Public Interest Graduation Requirement for 2D or 3E students;
- Enrollment Preference: There will be room in the course for 80 students in Spring, 2013. Preference in enrollment goes first to 3E students, and then to 2D students.
- Repeat enrollment: You may enroll in the VITA course as a second time course taker, but to do so, you must commit to the two unit course at the Office of the State Controller. They are happy to enroll students who are already trained, and quickly put them to work in quality control reviewing the returns prepared by other VITA volunteers. Repeat enrollees must take and complete the test for basic and intermediate tax preparation, and attend the mandatory class for tax updates.
- The course number for the one unit course is 5N3-01. Enroll as you would for any other class through the SWS system. The course number for the two unit course is 5N3-03. Enroll as you would for any other class through the SWS system.
- The one unit course involves preparing for and completing basic tax preparation tests in IRS materials. Materials will be available in the Graphics Department by December 1. The materials will direct you to the IRS “Link and Learn” training web site for instruction. You will be required to complete the basic and intermediate tests, print out your certifications when you are done, and bring them to the Mandatory Class Meeting on Jan. 26 (see next paragraph). Before you start, check the Externship VITA TWEN site, where we will post the training video from last year to help you go through the problems involved in the tests. You must also attend the mandatory training class in January, and provide 25 tax preparation service hours at any VITA site that will accept your certification or is otherwise affiliated or approved by Loyola.
- The two unit course involves passing the basic and intermediate tests, attending the mandatory Saturday training meeting, and providing 77 tax preparation or service hours at the Office of the State Controller (the gleaming white tower located at 7th and Figueroa – the Loyola shuttle drops you off within a block and will pick you up in front of the building).
- Mandatory class meeting: All VITA students must attend a mandatory training class on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 from 10 am to 2 pm in the Hall of the 70’s. Don’t enroll in the course if you can’t attend the training class (please contact Professor Blanco (Barbara.firstname.lastname@example.org) if you cannot attend the training class for religious reasons). The meeting will address course requirements, ethics and professionalism at your VITA site, use of Tax Wise software, and intake and tax return packaging procedures. A training professional from the Office of the State Controller will walk you through several hypothetical tax returns, advise you about tax updates and make sure you know intake and tax preparation procedures for the clients you assist.
- Tax wise software: The IRS materials will reference you to a site where you can begin to become familiar with the Tax Wise software that you will be using for tax preparation services. The more familiar you become with the software, the more understandable the training session will be at the mandatory meeting.
- Service delivery dates and locations: The one unit course requires 25 hours of service delivery (usually in 4-6 hours shifts) and the two unit course requires 77 hours of service delivery (25 + 52 hours, also usually in 4-6 hour shifts). Sites are still being identified, but they will include the Office of the State Controller that is accessible via the Loyola shuttle. Weekday and evening sites will be arranged. Additional information will be provided at the mandatory training session on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 in the Hall of the 70’s.
- Office of the State Controller “Mega-VITA” days: The State Controller will be scheduling some all day events where you can easily get in 8 hours in one day of tax preparation services. These events are usually on a Saturday. We will have dates for you at the mandatory class meeting.
- No half or part time sessions: You must be prepared to stay for the entire session when you are providing services.
- Sign up for services: Signups will be online through TWEN. The procedure for site signups will be addressed at the mandatory meeting. You may not sign up for a service shift unless your training certifications have been turned in at the mandatory training meeting or to the Externship Office, Founders Hall 240.
- No signup cancellations: Sign up carefully! We need to rely on you to be in attendance to assist taxpayers who will also rely on you to be there. We might let you cancel if you have the swine flu or the bird flu or whatever exotic flu is going around, but not for much else.
- Time sheets: Time sheets will be provided at the mandatory class and are always posted on the VITA TWEN page. All time sheets are due in the Externship Office no later than April 30, 2013 to complete the course.
- Sites other than Loyola spondored sites: If you are able to find a VITA preparation site other than the sites provided by Loyola, and if the site agrees to accept you as a Tax Wise certified preparer, you are welcome to provide your services hours at a site that you locate. We will try to provide you with a reference sheet for VITA sites that may be more convenient for you.
- Involuntary withdrawal from VITA: If you fail to attend the mandatory training or if you fail to submit your certification of Tax Wise course completion at the training class on Jan. 26, 2013 in the Hall of the 70’s, you agree that you may be involuntarily withdrawn from the VITA course for the one unit of credit.
Founders Hall 240
919 Albany St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015