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TAP Volunteering

Getting started

How to Sign Up to Volunteer

Ready to volunteer? You can get started by taking the following two steps:

  1. Sign up to receive our volunteer newsletter.
  2. Create (or update, if you already have one) your volunteer account with us on VolunteerHub.
  3. Ladder Up will be creating Absorb accounts for volunteers who have logged in to VolunteerHub and ensured their user information is accurate. An activation email will be sent to you. Please activate your Absorb account within 7 days of receiving the initial email.

Volunteer Roles

In an effort to provide service for as many clients as possible with a limited amount of space, this season we will be transitioning to a “drop-off” model based out of Ladder Up’s main office. Clients will make an appointment, they will come to the office to have their case reviewed and their documents scanned, their taxes will be prepared remotely, and then they will come back at a later date for a quality review appointment where they will receive their completed tax return and refund information.

Based on initial surveys, we are expecting volunteer commitments to be much lower this year than in years past, and many volunteers say that they are unable to provide in-person client service. In the past, when we have experienced gaps in fulfillment of volunteer tax site roles, we have used an outside vendor to provide temporary staff. This year, in expectation of that gap and to ensure that we can meet our clients’ needs, we have engaged with a professional services partner capable of efficiently performing portions of the tax preparation process on an ongoing basis.

While this partner will be completing much of the tax preparation, volunteers will be needed at each step in the process, and they will be providing all of the client facing support alongside Ladder Up staff members.

We have opportunities to volunteer either in-person or virtually! For the 2021 tax season, we will have the following TWO volunteer roles: 

Drop-Off Specialist

Drop-Off Specialists will play a critical role at our sites, ensuring that clients have all required documents and setting the stage for a smooth tax prep process! As a Drop-Off Specialist, you can expect to: 

  • Volunteer in-person at a drop-off site 
  • Meet one-on-one with clients to review their completed 13614-C and supplemental intake sheets, ensure they have all required tax documents, and ask any necessary follow-up questions to make sure all relevant information is documented 
  • Scan all client documents into TaxSlayer so that the return can be prepared remotely 
  • Complete the Volunteer Standards of Conduct exam, IIQR exam, and Basic Tax Certification as required volunteer training 

Exit Interviewer

 Exit Interviewers are crucial to the tax preparation process! This client-facing role serves as the final step in the tax prep process (and gets the fun job of telling clients their refund!). As an Exit Interviewer, you can expect to: 

  • Volunteer remotely or in-person at a drop-off site 
  • Meet (in-person or via a virtual platform) with clients to review their completed tax return 
  • Work with the client to ensure all information is accurate and use TaxSlayer software to make any needed edits to the client’s tax return 
  • Complete the Volunteer Standards of Conduct exam, IIQR exam, and Advanced Tax Certification modules as required volunteer training 

Training

Training for the 2021 tax season is coming soon! 

All IRS certification exams will be completed through the IRS’ VITA training program, Link & Learn. Volunteers will also need to complete Ladder Up-specific modules within our Learning Management System, Absorb (if you volunteered with us last year, Absorb is the new and improved version of Exceed LMS). 

Ladder Up will be creating Absorb accounts for volunteers who have logged in to VolunteerHub and ensured their user information is accurate. If you plan to volunteer with us for the 2021 tax season, please be sure to log into (or create, if you don’t already have one!) your VolunteerHub account as soon as possible. 

We expect that our training will go live soon, and at that time, registered volunteers will receive an email from Absorb to activate their accounts and complete training. We’ll be sending out more information about how to complete training in our Ladder Update newsletter! 

FAQ's

Do I need a tax or finance background to volunteer?

No tax preparation experience is necessary to get involved! All tax and software training is provided.

What training do I need to complete? Can I complete it online?

All training can be completed online, at your own pace! All volunteers are required to complete a Volunteer Standards of Conduct quiz, Intake/Interview, and Quality Review quiz, and a Tax Certification Exam (Drop-Off Specialists must be at least basic-level certified, Exit Interviewers must be advanced-level certified). These tests can all be completed through the IRS Link & Learn program. 

Volunteers will also complete Ladder-Up specific modules regarding our site process. These modules will be completed through Ladder Up’s Online Learning Management System, Absorb. We expect that training will open in mid-December, and we’ll be sending out more information about how to complete training in our Ladder Update newsletter! 

Am I liable if I make a mistake on someone’s tax return?

All volunteers who have complied with the following program policies are not liable for mistakes on a client’s return: 

  • Complete the mandatory IRS prerequisites for the current filing season 
  • Successfully pass the IRS certification exam required for your volunteer role for the current filing season 
  • Prepare or review returns only within the scope of your certification level 
Who can I contact if I have more questions?

Please scroll down to the bottom of this page to complete the Contact Us section and select “TAP Volunteering” from the dropdown menu. Or reach out to us at volunteer@goladderup.org or 312-409-1555 ext. 6 

When are volunteer shifts available?

Volunteer shifts are available Monday-Saturday! Our tax season begins on January 25th and typically runs through April 15th.  

Where are your drop-off sites located?

We will start the season with a drop-off site based out of Ladder Up’s main office. We hope to expand our service as the season progresses, first by offering virtual case review and quality review for our clients, and then by opening additional drop-off sites throughout Chicago and Illinois. Our ability to do this will depend on how efficiently we can run our main site at the Ladder Up office, and the status of the pandemic in our state and city.