Linking volunteers to quality e-learning solutions
Link & Learn Taxes, is the web-based program providing seven certification courses for volunteers and a refresher course for returning volunteers. This training prepares Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) partners and volunteers to provide quality tax return preparation services in their local communities. This fun, interactive course teaches you to accurately prepare income tax returns for individuals and users can obtain volunteer certification along the way at their own pace! Some tax professionals can even earn continuing education credits when certifying at the designated level and meeting other specific requirements.
There are seven modules to the current application.
- Basic: Covers the completion of wage earner type returns. Social security income and penalty on early withdrawal of savings is part of the Basic course.
- Advanced: Covers the completion of the full scope of returns. Includes capital gains and losses and more complex pension issues.
- Puerto Rico: Covers the completion of returns for U.S. citizens who are bona fide residents of Puerto Rico.
- Foreign Student and Scholars: Covers the completion of returns for international students and scholars.
Optional Specialty Courses
- Military: Covers the full scope of returns presented by members of the Armed Forces, Reserve and National Guard. It requires certification in Advanced. This course covers domestic military topics, therefore military representatives or instructors going overseas to provide assistance or teach must be certified in both Military and International courses.
- International: Covers the completion of returns for taxpayers, military and non-military, living outside the United States and assisted by volunteers working at U.S. Embassies and Consulates or military installations. This requires certification in Advanced. Includes Foreign Income Exclusion and Foreign Tax Credit.
- Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): Covers who is eligible for an HSA and the tax treatment of HSA contributions and distributions and requires Basic certification or higher.
Federal Tax Law Update Test for Circular 230 Professionals
The test covers new provisions and tax law changes. Volunteers with the professional designation of attorney, Enrolled, Agent or Certified Public Accountant have the option of certifying via the Circular 230 Federal Tax Law Update Test. A volunteer who completes this certification level can prepare all tax returns that fall within the scope of the VITA/TCE program as well as perform all volunteer roles such as tax preparer, quality reviewer and/or instructor. This is an optional test for Circular 230 professionals. Volunteers who would like additional training beyond this certification can choose the traditional certification paths (Basic, Advanced, etc.) available to all new and returning volunteers. Please refer to the Fact Sheet for additional information.
Students will go through an interactive e-learning tool with lessons that include tax topics, case studies, and interview simulations. Each lesson has media icons linking to any available media concerning the subject, and includes links to Tax Facts, Assessments, TaxWise Tutorials, Job Aids and the Practice Lab. Once lessons are completed students may certify at the level appropriate to their training. Returning students may complete a “What’s New This Year” lesson and then certify at the level appropriate to their training and experience.
For instructors there are lesson plans, answers to exercise questions that include completed tax forms and related links to external Web sites.
Becoming a Volunteer
If you are interested in working with this program as a volunteer but are not connected to a volunteer site just submit your contact information using the VITA/TCE Volunteer and Partner Sign Up. Your information will be forwarded to the sponsoring partners in your area for further contact.
Continuing Education Credit
Tax Professionals can earn continuing education credits by completing the required tax law certifications and serving as an IRS tax law-certified volunteer instructor, tax return preparer, and/or quality reviewer in the SPEC Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs. Volunteers can earn a maximum of 18 continuing education credits. All volunteers requesting continuing education credits are required to meet tax law certification requirements via Link and Learn Taxes. Volunteers cannot be compensated for their work as instructors, quality reviewers, or tax return preparers if they are seeking CE credits. A Fact Sheet is available with more information on Continuing Education Credits.