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Training and certification information and resources for tax season 2021

(updated 1/12/2021)

To download the certification instructions link here.

New this year AND Important Reminders

  • Returning Preparers; Reviewers; Site Coordinators should certify at the ADVANCED level. Experienced volunteers can choose to take the new Qualified Experienced Volunteer (QEV) certification instead of the Advanced test. (The QEV scenarios are extra tricky and include scenarios where you would likely consult with another experienced volunteer or reviewer if they came up at the tax site.)
  • To receive CE credit you must take the Advanced test. (Click here for information on CE Credit).
  • As soon as you complete ALL certification exams, submit your Volunteer Agreement electronically to CTA (more information below.)
  • All sites will be using TaxSlayer. Click here for training and practice information.
Training Resources Certification Exams
Publications

Available for pickup:  Pub. 6744 & Pub. 4012
(Call or email to arrange a time to pick at CTA office (McPherson Square), or a porch pickup location (Alexandria, VA; Capitol Hill, DC; Mt. Pleasant, DC;  Palisades, DC))

Available Online:

Online Self Study

Quick HSA Reminder (see below)

Test Topics Guide (coming soon)

Select Topics (see below)

Reminders & Tips

 

>Quick HSA Reminder

Be careful of this common mistake.

  • Don’t count the nondeductible contributions as deductible. (Often taxpayers know they have contributed to their HSA (sometimes not), but they often don’t realise it’s going through a Cafeteria Plan.)
  • Don’t only look at the Form 5498-SA as the total contribution amount may include non-deductible contributions. (Taxpayers often don’t know if their contribution was pre-tax. Employer contributions and pre-tax employee contributions are non-deductible.
  • Do look at the W2 to see if any of the HSA contribution amount is non-deductible.

Example 1:

Bob contributes $500 to his health savings account, and his employer contributes $1,000. His Form 5498-SA shows contributions of $1,500.

Only the $500 is deductible. The $1,000 appears on Bob’s W-2 with Code W in box 12 and is not deductible.

Example 2:

The facts are the same as in example 1, except Bob contributes to his HSA pretax through a Section 125 Cafeteria Plan. In that case, none of the contribution is deductible. Furthermore, the Box 12 (Code W) amount includes the $500 Bob contributed and the $1,000 his employer contributed, for a total of $1,500. Bob’s Form 5498-SA also shows $1,500 in total HSA contributions. None of the $1,500 is deductible.

>Select Topics

  • For Pensions with unknown taxable amount, go to: https://cotaxaide.org/tools & click on Annuity Calculator
  • Pell Grant, AOTC, taxable scholarship and Kiddie Tax
    • See: Pub. 4012, page J-6 and “Coordination with Pell grants and other scholarships.” in Pub 970 page 16
    • Taxable scholarship income is considered earned income for the purposes of determining filing requirement
    • Taxable scholarship income is considered unearned income for the purposes of Kiddie Tax (see 2020 4012 page A2 near the bottom). The Kiddie Tax is out of scope

>Exam Certification Registration:

  • Go to: https://www.linklearncertification.com
  • Log-in using last year’s username and password OR “Create Account” if you are new to Link and Learn.
  • REQUIRED: If you logged in using last year’s information, click on the “My Account” tab to verify and update your information using the instructions below.
  • For Group, “01-VITA Volunteer”. Also be sure to indicate if you are an IRS employee.
  • If you are a Assistant/Site Coordinator, select “Yes” for “Do you want to take the Site Coordinator Course”
  • Select “Yes” for “Do you plan to volunteer in the VITA/TCE Program?”
  • For Training Source, select “Other”
  • First and Last Name: MUST match the name on your government issued photo ID
  • Under “Partner/Organization Name” type “Community Tax Aid DC”
  • For “Years you Have Volunteered” select “1” if this is your first year, “2” if it is your second, etc.
  • “Professional status…” fill in this field and remaining only if you are a registered return preparer, EA,
    CPA, or attorney AND you are requesting IRS CE credits
     (To enter PTIN type P plus your number. For CTEC ID, type A plus your number)
  • After filling in all the information:
  • If you are updating, click the “save” button at the bottom of the screen.
  • If you created a new account, click the “register “button at the bottom of the screen to the right.

>Continuing Education Credits

>Signing & Submitting Volunteer Agreement

Signing & Printing (Complete ALL of your exams before completing these steps)

  1. Before printing, make sure you clicked on the “My Account” tab and updated your information according to the instructions above. [To request CE credits fill in fields at the bottom of the form.]
  2. On the right side of the screen, you will see a box that says, “You may sign your Volunteer Agreement electronically by checking this box.” Click the box
  3. Under the box, you will see “Click here to open and complete your Volunteer Agreement”.
  4. Click on the link. It will generate your volunteer agreement with your test results.

If you are requesting CE credit, navigate to page 2 of the agreement and digitally sign the agreement (if unable to digitally sign, you will need to print and manually sign the agreement.)

  1. On page 2 of the PDF, you will see a “Professional designation” section.
    Do NOT fill this out—even if you are an Attorney/CPA or EA.
  2. Save the pdf to submit electronically to CTA.

Submitting

  1. All volunteers should submit your agreement to CTA: Fax: 202-521-3988 (no cover letter necessary), or Email: volunteer@communitytaxaiddc.org
  2. If you are volunteering in person, take your photo ID and volunteer agreement to your tax site the first day. If you are volunteering remotely, after we receive the volunteer agreement we will verify your ID remotely.