How to Become a CWF Volunteer
- Sign up and we will reach out to you.
- Create an account on our volunteer portal.
- Email us your Volunteer Agreement once you certify. Click here to download the form.
- Register for volunteer shifts. You will only be able to do this once we have inputted your certification level in our system.
The opportunity to help families and individuals maximize their tax return is fulfilling. But don’t take our word for it — hear from three of our top volunteers.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs have served as an invaluable financial resource for low-to-moderate income taxpayers in communities across the country for over 50 years. With as little as eight hours of training, VITA volunteers are able to uniquely help break the cycle of generational poverty by assisting taxpayers build savings, open bank accounts, review their credit score, receive financial coaching and more. Each year, VITA volunteers put billions of dollars back in the pockets of low-income taxpayers nationwide, and in so doing, facilitate sustainable community reinvestment and development. Each year, hundreds of volunteers—both in-person and virtual—help bring in over $40 million in tax refunds to our region.
Roles and Responsibilities
Connect working families with eligible tax credits that can add up to thousands of dollars. With the support of the tax site Management Team, a Tax Preparer volunteer works one-on-one with individuals and families to electronically file free tax returns — whether virtually or at an in-person tax site.
Looking to work at a more relaxed pace? Prepare drop-off tax returns for customers who will return to pick them up. All Tax Preparer volunteers are cross-trained in intake, screening, quality review, and the closeout process.
Skills Needed Computer experience, strong attention to detail, and customer service skills. No tax law experience necessary.
Online Training Completion Required
A strong greeter is essential for establishing a welcoming and organized experience from the start. Whether virtually or at an in-person tax site, you will work with customers to compile all intake documents to ensure a speedy and accurate process.
Skills Needed Customer service skills and a high level of organization.
Online Training Completion Required
Similar to our volunteer Tax Preparer role, Tax Associate interns are certified at the Advanced tax preparation level and assist in the general management of a tax site and virtual tax prep, including taking on such vital roles as Quality Reviewer. Learn more about internhips.
Minimum Requirements: Certification at the Advanced tax preparation level and commitment of 12-16 hours per week (130 hours total) from January – April.
Online Training Completion Required
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is an IRS program designed to help low and moderate-income taxpayers complete their annual tax returns for free. The program was founded in 1971 to provide local taxpayers with free tax return preparation by accounting students in an effort to provide both a valuable community service and a powerful hands-ons learning experience for the accounting students. The program grew from a small group of dedicated students to what is now a nationwide program that serves millions of taxpayers for not only area college students, but everyday people who want to improve their communities by providing a service that makes a real, tangible difference.
The Campaign for Working Families, Inc is part of a national effort to provide free tax preparation services that boost the number of filers eligible to claim the federal credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit and Education Credit. Free tax preparation is also a means to reduce the number of taxpayers who fall prey to costly financial products and services often associated with private tax preparation services. At many of our tax sites, we also provide resource building services and public benefit sign-up assistance through partnership with other organizations.
For more than 45 years, EITC has reduced the annual tax burden for low and moderate income working families and emerged as America’s largest and most effective federal anti-poverty program. In 2017, the full EITC amount is $6,318 for eligible taxpayers with 3 or more qualifying dependents. As you can imagine, this amount in the form of a refund or savings bond can have a significant effect on the financial well-being of a low-income family, let alone the local economy.
In Philadelphia, it is estimated that over 40,000 eligible households do not claim EITC, leaving approximately $100 million in unclaimed credits from poor and working class communities and our region’s economy.
As the region’s largest VITA volunteer organization, CWF makes it easy for you to help working families throughout greater Philadelphia and Sothern New Jersey achieve a stronger financial standing and a brighter future. Through one-on-one interaction at our tax sites, you can be a part of bringing in tens of millions in refunds to the region and be able to count, in dollars, the value of the time you donated for the families served.
Each year, 800+ volunteers log thousands of hours. Since our founding in 2003, our CWF volunteers have filed thousands of tax returns that have brought in hundreds of millions in refunds. Very few other poverty initiatives can claim such success.
We offer both in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities for all roles. Our in-person tax sites operate on an appointment-only basis to minimize client volume and follow current CDC guidelines (as of Sep 30, 2021). Our virtual opportunities can be done from the safety of your own home.
Although the bulk of our volunteers are needed to prepare tax returns, we also need volunteers to serve as Interviewers and Greeters.
Here are a few responses:
- “Seeing the peace of mind of customers who knew their taxes were filed correctly and they would be keeping as much of their hard earned money as possible.”
- “Helping others. It’s true that helping others gives you a feeling of satisfaction.”
- “Seeing the same faces from previous years, customers and volunteers, and the reaction of families who received a refund.”
The minimum time commitment for volunteers who attend our free training is 30 hours, to be served between January and April.
No. You don’t need any previous experience aside from basic computer skills, essential for all positions. For all volunteer positions, we will train you in everything you need to know including the computer software.
Each tax site is staffed by a Site Management Team and experienced volunteers who will guide you as you learn how to perform in your role. Throughout the tax season you will always be surrounded by other volunteers and experienced staff to answer questions and support you as needed.
We have systems to ensure that every return is prepared correctly. After you complete your return, the site manager or designated Quality Reviewer will double check your work. In the unlikely case that a mistake is not caught, as a trained and certified volunteer, you are not held legally liable. Under the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997, all VITA volunteers are protected from liability for negligent acts they perform within the scope of their volunteer responsibilities. See IRS Publication 4961.
Each role at the tax site requires different training and IRS certification.