A Rewarding Way to Give Back
Volunteers are the key to “free” in United Way’s Free Tax Preparation program. We offer a variety of year-round volunteer opportunities, including evening and Saturday options during tax season. We welcome volunteers from all backgrounds. You DO NOT need to have professional experience in accounting or finance to help. If you are willing and able to learn, and want to provide valuable assistance to your community, this could be a great opportunity for you!
Ways to Volunteer
Tax Preparers: Complete our tax-preparation training classes (approximately six hours) to become an IRS-certified tax preparer. Once certified, you can volunteer to complete tax returns for members of our community and choose the days and times that best fit your schedule. To express your interest in volunteering and to be the first to hear about training classes, please click here. Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or see the FAQ below.
Tax Center Greeters: Complete a brief open-book test (less than one hour) to become an IRS-certified volunteer. Upon certification, you can volunteer to be one of the first friendly faces our clients see when they arrive at United Way. You’ll welcome them, explain how the Free Tax Preparation program works and ensure that they have all the necessary documents to get their taxes prepared. Choose the schedule that works best for you. To express your interest in volunteering and to be the first to hear about training classes, please click here. Questions? Email us at email@example.com or see FAQ below.
Student Interns: Are you a student looking for an internship? Questions? Email Ashley Lemsky at firstname.lastname@example.org or see FAQ below.
How do I register for tax prep volunteer training?
Click here to express interest in volunteering.
What is covered in the training?
Volunteers will receive reference material and learn to apply frequently used tax law, as well as learn to prepare returns using tax software. They will set up a password to training software that they can access after class for further practice if desired. In addition, they will have access to videos to watch for further review, and reference materials to keep and review.
Do I have to complete a certification to volunteer?
Volunteers need to complete an open-book IRS certification before volunteering. The training classes offered cover all material needed for the certification; at the end of class, volunteers will be ready to complete their tests. Additional one-on-one help is available for remaining questions about the certification process, if needed.
What if I do not pass my certification test?
The passing score for each Certification is 80 or higher. Volunteers who did not pass on the first try may take a retake test, but only once. Contact United Way before beginning the retake to make sure that you understand the correct answers to the questions you missed.
Where do I volunteer?
Although training is held at UAB and Samford, all tax-preparation appointments are held at United Way of Central Alabama.
Where is United Way of Central Alabama?
3600 8th Avenue South in the Avondale/Forest Park neighborhood. From St. Vincent’s Hospital, follow University Boulevard east about eight blocks. The street name will change to Clairmont Avenue. Watch for the Piggly Wiggly on the left at 34th Street South. After the Piggly Wiggly, go one more block past Park 35 Apartments, and turn left at 36th Street South. UWCA is one block ahead at the top of the hill. Turn right and then turn left into the parking lot on the back side of building, past auditorium. Enter at the Community Services entrance and sign in to get your volunteer badge and name tag.
What do I do as a volunteer?
Most appointments for clients allow them to complete a drop-off interview one week, then return the next week to sign and pick up the completed return. Volunteers can help with the drop-off and pick-up meetings.
Volunteers also have the option to prepare returns that have already been dropped off; many new volunteers like to do this as a way to get familiar with the process without worry that they are keeping a client waiting.
Wednesday appointments are reserved for clients who need to have their return prepared in one trip.
On Thursday evenings and Fridays, no appointments are scheduled. Volunteers prepare returns that were received earlier in the week. It is a great time to volunteer and get familiar with the process — with extra support available.
What if I have questions while volunteering?
United Way Site Coordinators are always on hand to respond to your questions. In addition, tabbed reference guides are available at each workstation to assist you with your questions.
What if I make a mistake?
In training, we teach that every return must go through a second check, called a Quality Review, before it is signed by the client. Ask questions as you have them, and if there are any issues that you think need close attention, attach a note to the return for the reviewer. This process allows an opportunity for mistakes to be identified and corrected prior to meeting with the client.
What is my liability as a volunteer?
The Volunteer Protection Act generally protects unpaid volunteers from liability for acts or omissions that occur while acting within the scope of their responsibilities at the time of the act or omission. It provides no protection for harm caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed by the volunteer.
What’s the schedule?
UWCA – 3600 8th Ave South, Community Services entrance Monday through Friday
Monday: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — Drop-off and pick-up appointments
Tuesday: 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. — Drop-off and pick-up appointments (extended hours begin 1/28)
Wednesday: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — One-trip appointments
Thursday: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — Drop-off and pick-up appointments
Thursday: 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. — Work on returns already received (extended hours on Thursdays begin 1/23)
Friday: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m — Work on returns already received
Use UWCA Auditorium entrance (under awning) on Saturday only
Saturday: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Drop-off and pick-up appointments only
How do I sign up for volunteer shifts?
Once you complete your IRS Volunteer Certification and submit to United Way by emailing the Volunteer Agreement to TaxVol@uwca.org, you will receive a message with a link to sign up for volunteer shifts. Please update your schedule as necessary if your availability changes.
Where do I park?
Park at UWCA in the general area of the Community Services entrance. Please leave the spaces closest to the building for our clients, many of whom are elderly or have mobility issues. If the parking lot near the Community Services entrance is full, you can park near the Auditorium entrance or in front of the building at the main entrance, if necessary. It is also permissible to parallel park on the street.
What’s the dress code?
UWCA is business casual, meaning khakis or slacks with a collared shirt are always appropriate. No shorts, please. Although UWCA staff can wear jeans on Fridays only, volunteers may wear neat jeans during the week.
Is there a break room?
We have a breakroom with refrigerators and a microwave just outside the tax-prep area, if you would like to bring lunch or a snack. There is coffee, ice and a filtered water dispenser. To reduce the chance of spills at your work space, you may want to bring a mug or water bottle with a lid. There are no vending machines on this floor, so if you prefer soft drinks, bring them with you.
What about checkin?
There will usually be a receptionist at the Community Services entrance to greet you when you volunteer, except on Thursday after 5 p.m. At that time, please call (205) 458-2088, and someone will come meet you at the entrance.
What happens if there is bad weather?
First of all – Be safe! Conditions may vary by neighborhood. Please do not travel if you do not think your route is safe. If you will not be able to come you can cancel the shift through INVOLVE, or send us a message at TaxVol@uwca.org.
If our operating hours are adjusted, we will email volunteers that are registered for that shift with updates about the changes.
If a storm warning occurs while volunteering at United Way, you will be directed to a place of safety downstairs below our Auditorium until the warning concludes.
Ready to get started?
Last year, United Way of Central Alabama assisted 2,252 people in preparing and filing their tax returns free of charge, generating more than $1.4 million in tax refunds. In response to COVID-19, we have redesigned our processes for both volunteer and taxpayer safety. Sign up now and you will receive an email invitation soon to register for one of our free live-online tax trainings, with dates beginning in November.Learn More