How are Volunteer Tax Preparers Certified?

Every year when the tax man comes around in April, people scramble to get their taxes done and done correctly. It is absolutely a time of stress. Not only is the process confusing and annoying, but you end up losing money because of it. The ironic side is that the better you prepare your taxes, the more money you might end up owing. People even make money off of their ability to prepare your taxes for cheap. Fortunately, there are professionals within the IRS program VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) who will help you with your tax reports. However, each of these professionals must be certified within the IRS itself. What does the certification in the program entail?

The basic level process takes a minimum of twenty hours, and each volunteer must be re-certified annually. The certification helps ensure that consumers receive the best possible tax help they can – for free! This comes about through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which is designed to help people with moderate to low incomes with their tax preparation. The program also extends help towards the elderly and those with military experience. It started in 1969 under the IRS so it could provide free tax assistance. Those who are trained under the program, of course, are not tax experts, but they are quite knowledgeable within the field. Anybody can become a VITA volunteer. The program has spawned several others around the country. States have created comparable programs designed to help those prepare their taxes, but all are under IRS control.

In fact, for the first time, other businesses that help people out with their taxes will be placed under IRS supervision. Other programs similar to VITA will be overseen by the IRS to ensure that the volunteers or employees are sufficiently qualified to be helping people with their taxes.

Even though tax season can be incredibly stressful, especially for those who do not completely understand the preparation process, people can turn to these volunteer programs to help.


Two of our partners provide volunteer income tax assistance. Raleigh residents may find their closest VITA location through the Wake EITC Coalition. For other locations, see 211.org.

Chris Buchheit

Chris Buchheit

Chris Buchheit was born under the hot Floridian sun during some year in the 1980s. There he studied school matters until moving to North Carolina in 1999. Possibly due to the fact that his mom had enough of him being inside all the time, he quickly got involved in community affairs via the Boy Scouts of America, where he learned the values of citizenship, morality, duty to God and country, and that the biggest kids get to boss around the smaller ones. Chris attained the rank of Eagle Scout in 2004, and still values the rank as one of his proudest achievements. Beginning in 2006, Chris began attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he quickly learned the value of basketball and poplar trees. Since attending UNC, Chris has been double majoring in Asian Studies, with a concentration in Chinese, and Political Science. When he isn’t slaving over his honors thesis, looking up a bunch of Chinese Characters, volunteering, or mindlessly browsing the same websites over and over, Chris enjoys writing short stories and novels. Much to his roommates’ annoyance, he also spends his free time learning to play the guitar. Above all else, though, Chris values God, his family, and his friends. For the future, Chris plans to apply to Georgetown to further his studies in Political Science, hopefully with a concentration on China. Pending acceptance into Georgetown, Chris would like to study while gaining professional experience in a government job in Washington DC.
Chris Buchheit

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