Training 1040_1

Serving Bullitt and Jefferson counties in Kentucky and Clark, Floyd, and Harrison counties in Southern Indiana.

TRAINING

Proper training is provided for all AARP Tax-Aide volunteers.  This varies from a half day to as many as five days or more, depending upon the position being filled. A special introduction to the use of the IRS provided tax software is held in the late fall to allow new counselors an opportunity to begin to get acquainted with using the software from the immediate past season.

IN BRIEF:  All new personnel attend an orientation program in the early fall and then receive their study material in late November or early December.  After studying the IRS materials and previewing the “open book” test, attendance is required at a class in January, which includes Tax-Aide administrative items, IRS and State tax law and additional preparation.  This is followed by completing the open book tests with a passing grade to then become a certified counselor for the current tax season.  Volunteers wishing to be a Greeter/Receptionist (Client Facilitator) receive their training at a half-day class in January.

Persons with prior tax preparation certification and/or experience are also required to attend the basic introductory session and complete the same tests as described above.

Training Levels:

Intake/Interview and Quality Review:  All volunteers are required to take the Standards of Conduct (Ethics) training and Intake/Interview and Quality Review tests. This includes volunteers who do not prepare tax returns.

Counselors are required to also complete the training and testing in the following three areas:

  • IRS: All counselors are required to pass the IRS Advanced test with a minimum score of 80% in addition to the  Intake/Interview and Quality Review tests.
  • Kentucky: This course covers most schedules for the state of Kentucky.
  • Proficiency: All counselors are also required to pass a proficiency examination to confirm their skills.

Selected counselors may also become certified for the following:

  • Health Savings Accounts: This optional course requires that you have already certified at the Advanced level. It is available online at Link & Learn Taxes.

Client Facilitators and Support Facilitators also receive specialized training specific to their positions as do Instructors and Coordinators.

ORIENTATION provides an overview of the program and the various volunteer roles in the organization.  A background on the organization itself is also featured during the one hour program.  Samples of the training materials are reviewed to enable each prospective volunteer gain a concept of the support and study materials necessary for the class. Orientation meetings are held in the fall of each year, typically one or more each in September, October and November.  Each new volunteer is expected to attend one of the sessions.

Support Facilitators have an irregular schedule, helping out around the year on an “as needed” basis.  Beginning in mid-January and continuing through April 15, they provide live service over the phone providing information about where the sites are located and the hours of service.  Their training includes that provided to Client Facilitators since they may occasionally fill in at the various sites.  Otherwise, they provide typical support in the Tax-Aide office.

NEW COUNSELOR candidates receive their IRS study and test materials in late November or early December and are expected to study the material prior to their formal class training in January.

Formal classes are held for up to  five days in January and attendance is necessary for a complete understanding of the materials.  The State test and materials are distributed on the first day of class and covered in class.

Both the IRS test and the test on KY returns are “open book” tests and are due three days after the class ends.  A passing score is required on both tests; retests may be administered in cases of individual need.  Volunteers are then “certified” as counselors and serve at one or more of the various sites in the area.  A minimum of 60 hours counseling is required of all counselors and most will normally work a couple of four hour shifts at one or more sites during the 10-11 week tax season.

Client Facilitators receive their training during late January before serving at one of the sites.  Like counselors, they too serve a minimum of 60 hours during the tax season and most will assist at a couple of sites each week. Persons serving in this role assist taxpayers in the preparation of their intake information forms and assist with a variety of administrative duties.

EXPERIENCED COUNSELORS attend an abbreviated class each year to review the basic IRS and KY materials, retake the new tests, and must be recertified annually. All experienced counselors are recertified with additional training to prepare electronic returns. This involves attending a class covering changes in tax law, administrative items and changes in the TaxSlayer preparation software. Counselors must also pass a proficiency test annually.

LEADERSHIP positions for Local Coordinators (LC’s), Shift Coordinators (SCO’s), Technology Coordinators (TC’s), Instructor’s and   Electronic Return Originators (ERO’s) all require prior experience as a counselor and additional training pertinent to their position.

LC’s serve as the site administrator and supervise the work of the Shift Coordinators, EROs, Counselors and Client Facilitators.  They must be certified annually and receive additional training for their administrative duties.  LC’s may supervise up to 25 other staff persons but typically will have 6-8.

SCO’s serve as the Associate Local Coordinator and serve as the supervisor for designated shifts at sites that are open several days a week.  They also assist the LC with the administrative duties.

TC’s are responsible for being the support person for several sites and provide technical aid for the use and installation of the software and for the operation and repair of the equipment.  They often serve as the ERO for a site too.  TC’s attend specialized training during the fall and assist with maintaining the equipment during the off season period.  A TC typically is responsible for 4-6 sites.  TC’s also serve as instructors for the electronic classes.

Instructor’s teach volunteers and help prepare them to be counselors. Most classes are taught by a team of three to four instructors. Class length varies from three to five days in addition to the fall orientation sessions. Instructors also provide tutoring services. Instructors attend a fall three day workshop in preparation for their classes.

ERO’s are responsible for the oversight of electronic filing at a site and do the actual transmittal of the electronically filed tax returns.  Each is a qualified and certified electronic counselor.  Much of the work of the ERO is performed outside the normal site hours and requires a significant amount of additional time.

DISTRICT LEADERS include District Coordinator, Administration Coordinator, Training Coordinator, Communication Coordinator, Web Master and Senior Technology Coordinator.  These positions require virtually year round service, with extensive work required from October through April.

The District Coordinator is responsible for the oversight of Local Coordinators and supervises the work of the other district leaders. The Communication Coordinator handles communication relationships with the radio, TV and print media and community groups, and assists with internal communications. The Senior Technology Coordinator oversees the work of the TC’s and maintains the inventory and assigns equipment used at the sites. 
 

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