This highlights provide information regarding changes to the volunteer certification for the 2014 Filing Season.
IRS made changes to the volunteer certification paths to reduce the time burden placed on volunteers through mandatory training and testing that are required to participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs.
Details of changes
The Volunteer Standards of Conduct (VSC)
The Publication 4961, Volunteer Standards of Conduct – Ethics, will include training and certification on the Intake/Interview and Quality Review Processes.
The Interview/Intake and Quality Review lessons will be removed from Publication 4491, VITA/TCE Training Guide, and incorporated in VSC training and certification. There will be approximately 10 combined questions. In addition, a PowerPoint presentation will be available for all certified volunteer preparers and quality reviewers explaining how to use these processes to prepare and quality review tax returns.
The Volunteer Certification Tests
The volunteer certification paths have been reduced from three (Basic, Intermediate, Advanced) to two (Basic and Advanced). The former Intermediate topics are now incorporated in either Basic or Advanced tests.
Specifics on course changes
Basic and Advanced are two separate stand-alone courses with approximately 30-40 questions each. The courses are not linked to each other which means the volunteer does not have to take the Basic course before taking the Advanced course.
The Basic course contains all of the Basic topics and some of the most commonly encountered Intermediate-level topics.
The Advanced course contains all of the current Basic, Intermediate and Advanced level topics. This course is all-inclusive; therefore, a volunteer is not required to certify in Basic before certifying in Advanced.