Organization must provide a location for tax prep that can accommodate people with physical disabilities (ADA compliant) and one or two people to act as a site coordinator. (See below re Duties of a Site Coordinator) At some smaller sites, the site coordinator also prepares and e-files all tax returns. Otherwise, the organization will require volunteers to prepare tax returns. To get started:
- Complete and submit Form 13715 to the Program Coordinator. The Coordinator will review the form before submitting it to the appropriate IRS-SPEC manager.
- Form 13715 requires an organization to decide on hours/days of operation. If you’re accepting walk-ins, your site must be open on days and during hours as set forth in 13715. In the alternative, you can service clients “By Appointment Only” (Requires someone to answer calls and schedule appointments). The Program Coordinator encourages all sites to operate on an Appointment Only basis. This provides a better method of screening clients and controlling traffic at the site.
- The IRS-SPEC manager will process Form 13715 and issue the organization a Site Identification Number (SIDN)
- Once the SIDN has been provided, complete Form 8633 (Application to Participate in the IRS e-file Program) in order to obtain an e-file identification number (EFIN) Submit that Form to the Program Coordinator for review. The Program Coordinator will submit to the IRS for processing.
- At the same time, the organization must indicate whether it will prepare returns using TaxWise Online or the desktop version of TaxWise.
TaxWise Online: Requires internet access. This method is preferable for new sites since templates, print sets, and returns can be established and reviewed by the Program Coordinator remotely. The only disadvantage to this method is that it is internet dependent. Therefore, if the internet or the TaxWise site goes “down”, tax returns cannot be prepared.
TaxWise Desktop: No internet service is required for tax preparation. However, one computer will have to be designated the main computer and all returns must be e-filed using that specific computer which will need to have internet access. No remote access is possible.
Whichever method is selected, TaxWise will send the site a software package containing a CD-ROM. With that package there will be a Fulfillment Notice. This one-page document contains your Registration Code for the software and your client ID, both of which you will need in order to program your computers to prepare tax returns with the TaxWise software. Those using TaxWise online will go online to set up their software and print sets – the CD-ROM does not have to be used. For those using the desktop version, the CD-ROM must be loaded onto every computer that you intend to use for tax preparation. Please refer to the Site Administrator Guide and the E-File Administrator’s guide (both of which are provided to all site coordinators by the IRS) regarding instructions on how to install and setup of the software.
Upon request, the Program Coordinator will provide an experienced volunteer to assist with the setup of the TaxWise software and with site operations at a new site on its first day of tax return preparation.
This Program also supports the partnering sites by providing the following:
- Assistance with volunteer recruitment. Volunteer recruitment is conducted using newspaper ads, radio ads, flyers, the internet, and social media.
- Advertising of all sites and site-specific advertising if necessary to increase traffic. Advertising is done by newspaper ads, radio ads, flyers, the internet, and social media.
- A trainer/mentor to assist with certification, procedures, and start-up of new sites
- Coordination and scheduling of volunteer training
- Provides sites with outreach materials and supplies upon request
- Provides stipends for site coordinators and nominal stipend for volunteers
- Pays for travel costs for volunteers to assist on neighbor islands
- Can arrange for a loan of laptops and other equipment to sites that cannot provide their own equipment (while inventory lasts)
- Provides a survey form for completion by taxpayers from which demographic data and taxpayer profiles are compiled and shares the results with partnering sites.
- Arranges for site coordinators and volunteers to have access to individuals who can assist them in the event that a problem arises at the site
- Provides a food allowance for volunteers working after regular business hours or on weekends
- Provides sites with end-of-season results which are compiled from various reports accessible with the TaxWise software.
- Sponsors a Mahalo and Recognition Event for all volunteers at the end of the season. Airfare and hotel accommodations are provided to neighbor island site coordinators to enable them to attend.
The Duties of the Site Coordinator
An organization that wants to sponsor a site that will be operating throughout the regular tax season must provide someone who will act as the site coordinator. Site coordinators have the following responsibilities:
- Must be certified as site coordinators and as volunteer tax return preparers.
- Responsible for properly e-filing all returns and correcting and re-submitting any rejected returns (training and help provided)
- Must supervise volunteers and ensure that tax return preparers follow privacy and non-discrimination rules and regulations as well as the VITA rules and guidelines
- Completes all required paperwork for IRS and submits to Program Coordinator
- Generates reports from TaxWise and provides reports to the Program Coordinator for aggregate compilation; site-specific reports are also generated for each site.