AARP Tax-Aide’s Things to Do Handbook
Doc File 921.50KByte
Period Covered: 2008-2009
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program 5
A. Program Mission And Overview 5
B. Tax-Aide’s Customers 7
2. AARP Tax-Aide Program Introduction 9
A. General Policy on Compensation, Conflict of Interest and Standards of Conduct 9
B. Internal Revenue Service & State/Local Tax Agencies 10
C. State and/or Local Tax Agencies 11
3. Classification and Scope of Services 13
A. Regular Services 13
B. Special Services 13
C. Services within Scope 14
D. AARP Tax-Aide Program Organization Chart 15
4. Volunteer Recruitment and Appointments 17
A. New Volunteers 17
B. Volunteer Appointments 18
C. Procedures for Appointing State Coordinators 19
D. Procedures for Appointing all Other Coordinators and/or Specialists 19
E. Reappointments 20
F. Transition of Files and Equipment 20
G. Volunteer Training and Testing 20
5. AARP Tax-Aide Sites 29
A. Site Operational Guidelines 29
B. Site Management 30
C. Isolated Locations 30
D. Site Selection 31
E. Tax-Aide Site Identification Numbers (SIDN) 32
F. Site Lists 32
G. Site Schedules 33
H. Site Materials 33
I. Confidentiality and Security of Taxpayer Data 34
6. Electronic Filing (e-filing) of Tax Returns 41
A. The Technology Management Guide 41
B. Software for the Preparation of Tax Returns and Electronic Filing 41
C. E-file Documentation 42
D. Taxpayer Data Deletion 42
E. Taxpayer Data Retention 42
7. Equipment Management & Ordering 43
A. Resource Forecast for next season 43
B. Ordering IRS Depot Equipment 43
C. Ordering Purchased Equipment 43
D. Custody of Received Equipment 44
E. Purchasing Equipment with Donated Funds 44
F. Ordering Consumables 44
8. Program Communications and Chain of Command 45
A. Volunteer Extranet 45
B. Chain of Command 45
9. Donations to AARP Tax-Aide 47
A. Grants & Partnerships 47
B. Equipment Donations 47
C. Local Grants and Partnerships 48
D. Local Sponsorships: New In 2008-2009 Grant Year 48
E. Monetary Donations 49
10. Ordering Program Materials 51
A. Automatic Shipments (based on the September Leadership Roster) 51
B. IRS Training Materials 51
C. Tax Preparation Software Ordering (starts in September) 51
D. Counselor Tax-Aide Materials (order by November or early December) 52
E. Tax-Aide Site Materials (order by November or mid-December) 52
F. IRS Site Materials 53
11. Tax-Aide Master Schedule of Events and Deliverables 54
A. Leadership Rosters 59
B. All Volunteer Rosters 59
C. Changes after Roster Submission 60
D. AARP Tax-Aide Activities, Personnel, and Expenses Reports 60
E. Equipment Inventories 63
F. Equipment Storage 63
G. Program Evaluation 63
H. Review of Volunteer Performance 63
I. Volunteers End-of-Season Assessment 64
J. National Assessment Report 64
12. Recognition of Service 65
A. Counselor Certificates 65
B. Site Awards 65
C. E-filing Awards 65
D. Service Pins & Plaques 66
E. Recognition Events 66
13. Reimbursement Policies 67
A. Volunteers not in Leadership positions 67
B. Volunteers in Leadership positions 67
C. Expense activity codes 68
D. Special rules and limitations 70
E. Non-allowable expenses 72
F. Reimbursement Delivery 74
G. Donated funds 77
H. Other information 77
14. Meetings 79
A. Starting the Season 79
B. Purchase Orders (Regional, State Coordinators and Instructors only) 79
C. Procedure for Meetings and Conference Calls (Step-by-Step Process) 81
15. Insurance 83
A. Volunteer Travel Accident Insurance 83
B. Volunteer Liability Protection 84
C. Certificate of Insurance for Site Liability 84
APPENDICES: GLOSSARY A
APPENDICES: INDEX D
Note: This Policy Manual contains highlighted text. As a new feature in this guide, important changes are highlighted for your quick identification.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to making life better for people 50 and over. We provide information and resources; engage in legislative, regulatory and legal advocacy; assist members in serving their communities; and offer a wide range of unique benefits, special products, and services for our members. These include AARP The Magazine published monthly, AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our quarterly newspaper in Spanish; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50 +educators; our web site, . We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Our State Offices are staffed with an AARP State Director and other employees who work in partnership with volunteers serving in roles such as State President, State Executive Council, State Volunteer Community Specialists and in AARP Chapters and NRTA units. This field structure creates a dynamic presence in every community and responds to the needs and interests of AARP members at the local level.
ABOUT THE AARP FOUNDATION
The AARP Foundation is the charitable arm of AARP committed to helping the most vulnerable members of our society. Through the Foundation, we bring independence, dignity and control to the lives of people who need it most.
Opportunity, Justice and Security best describe what the AARP Foundation does every day to improve the lives of people as they age.
AARP Foundation Litigation is the nation’s preeminent pubic interest advocacy group dedicated to defending and advancing the legal rights and interests of older Americans. The Legal Advocacy group works on a variety of issues involving age and disability discrimination in employment; pensions and other employee and retiree benefits; financial fraud, including predatory lending; health and long-term care, including access to high quality, affordable care and prescription medications; affordable, accessible housing and other community services; and access to government and public benefits.
AARP Foundation Programs and Services – Annually, the Foundation’s programs and services serves millions of people annually by addressing the core issues that help older members of our society meet their health and financial needs and reduce the risk that they will fall victim to poverty and fraud. Areas include: financial services, employment and training, consumer protection education, public benefits enrollment, caregiver guidance, and women’s programs.
The Foundation programs rely on thousands of volunteers just like you to carry out the services that provide a helping hand to those who need it most. We thank you for your dedication.
Funding the Foundation – The Foundation receives funding from multiple sources, including individual donors, government grants, corporations, foundations, and support from AARP. Eighty-three percent of what the Foundation spends goes to our important programs and services. If you would like to support the Foundation with a tax-deductible contribution, visit foundation or call 1-888-OUR-AARP (888-687-2277).
The AARP Foundation: Empowering others, helping us all.
AARP FOUNDATION PROGRAMS AND SERVICES AT A GLANCE
AARP Tax-Aide is nation’s largest free, volunteer-run tax preparation and assistance service. More than 33,000 volunteers annually provide free tax assistance and preparation service at over 6600 sites across the country to approximately 2.9 million low and moderate income taxpayers, with special attention to those age 60 and older. Electronic filing and on-line tax assistance are also offered by the program. The program’s funding sources include the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), AARP, and private contributions. Call 1-888-AARPNOW (toll-free for site locations and volunteer opportunities) or go to taxaide.
Money Management helps low income, older individuals remain independent by providing daily money management services to those who have difficulty budgeting, paying routine bills, and keeping track of financial matters. The program also offers financial education resources and tools to older adults and their caregivers. The Money Management program is funded by AARP.
EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING
WorkSearch A new AARP Foundation program that provides community level services to individuals who are seeking to remain in or re-enter the workforce. The WorkSearch program provides a variety of services including online interest and skills assessments, information about the local job market and connections to local training and employment opportunities. worksearch.
Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) helps individuals age 55 and older with limited income gain the job skills and work experience necessary to transition to permanent employment. In addition, the program provides over 8 million hours of community service annually to local nonprofit agencies that assist with training program participants, enabling them to expand and provide key services. The program, funded by the US Department of Labor, is sponsored by the AARP Foundation in 28 states and Puerto Rico. scsep.
CONSUMER PROTECTION EDUCATION
ElderWatch projects fight financial exploitation of older Americans in the states of Colorado and West Virginia through direct client assistance to help resolve consumer-
based disputes, extensive outreach and education and collection of data. The program’s funding sources include the State’s Attorneys General Office, AARP and private contributions.
Consumer Fraud Prevention This project engages peer volunteers in alerting older consumers nationwide to telemarketing and other types of fraud that endangers the financial security of older individuals. Volunteers reach out to known and potential fraud victims and offer tips and information about telemarketing scams and other forms of fraud that may use wire transfer services. The program is designed to make at least 3 million contacts with older consumers over the next five years.
Reverse Mortgage Education Project is the nation’s leading source of independent consumer information on reverse mortgages and other less costly alternatives to help people remain in their homes. Reverse mortgages are in increasingly popular way for homeowners to tap the equity they have built in their homes and convert it to cash, without having to sell or make monthly payments. While popular, these types of mortgages can be complicated and expensive and are not right for everyone. revmort
PUBLIC BENEFITS ENROLLMENT
Benefits Outreach offers assistance to older people with low or moderate incomes to find public and private benefit programs for which they may be eligible, to help pay for prescription drugs, doctor’s bills, groceries, heating bills, property taxes and more. One way this program offers assistance is by encouraging the use of a free on line tool: Benefits QuickLink quicklink. The Benefits Outreach program is funded by AARP.
GUIDANCE TO CARE FOR LOVED ONES
Prepare to Care Today, 30 million households are providing care for an adult over the age of 50-and that number is expected to double over the next 25 years. In order to assist with this emerging caregiving need, we have developed Prepare to Care: A Planning Guide for Families. This comprehensive guide includes information on how to get started, questions to ask and where to find basic resources. It also includes forms that you and your caregiving team can fill out and keep on file, so that you will have all the pertinent information about your loved one and his/her financial affairs, health needs, household matters, and more in one place. To download a free version, visit foundation and search “Prepare to Care.”
Grandparenting provides information, referral and outreach for grandparents, policy makers, corporations and direct service providers, with a special emphasis on support for grandparents who provide care for their grandchildren. The program’s funding sources include AARP and private contributions. grandparent
Through its Women’s Programs, AARP Foundation is taking the steps necessary to help women take more control of their health and finances. Women’s programs focus on those existing and new projects that help women secure financial security, health and social well being.
Women’s Scholarship Program provides scholarship funds to women 40+ seeking new job skills, training, and educational opportunities to support themselves and their families. The AARP Foundation Women's Scholarship Program is available to eligible individuals with moderate to lower incomes and limited financial resources.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
1. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program
The AARP and the AARP Foundation have a long-standing commitment to community service. Through Foundation’s collective efforts, millions of people are well served each year in communities across the country. AARP Foundation and AARP volunteers are the heart of AARP and AARP Foundation’s community service programs. In your community, the Tax-Aide volunteer’s exemplify AARP’s and AARP Foundation’s commitment to helping others.
A. Program Mission And Overview
Mission: To provide high quality free income tax assistance and tax form preparation to middle-to-moderate-income taxpayers, with special attention to those age 60 and older.
|Who We Are |AARP Tax-Aide is the nation’s largest volunteer-run tax assistance and preparation service, preparing tax returns and|
| |answering tax questions free of charge. AARP Tax-Aide is a program of the AARP Foundation and is offered in |
| |conjunction with the IRS. |
|Where We Serve Our Taxpayers |Taxpayers receive free in-person assistance at one of the approximately 6,600 sites nationwide open during the |
| |standard 1040 tax filing season. Free electronic filing is offered at most sites. Sites are located in malls, |
| |libraries, banks, senior centers, and other convenient facilities. We also provide shut-in service upon special |
| |request, whenever possible. Year-round tax assistance is offered online at taxaide. Quality reviewed |
| |answers are sent to taxpayers via email within a few business days. |
|How Many Volunteers Serve |Over 33,000 volunteers make up AARP Tax-Aide. Virtually all provide tax assistance, and 6,700 are additionally |
| |volunteer leaders. |
|Program Structure & |AARP Tax-Aide is a nationwide, volunteer-run program. Regional and state volunteer leaders share in setting policies|
|Administration |while assuming most supervisory and operational responsibilities. Volunteer tax assistance Counselors provide all |
| |service-level tax assistance. Volunteer Instructors provide tax training to Counselors. |
|Coordinator & Specialist Roles|Coordinators recruit and supervise volunteers at all levels. Local Coordinators (LCs) ensure volunteer recruitment |
| |and training, volunteer certification, site creation, site compliance with program policy, database accuracy, |
| |activity reporting, and Counselor expense reimbursement. Site Coordinators assist LCs with site management during tax|
| |season. District Coordinators (DCs) manage activity at the district level and recruit and supervise Local |
| |Coordinators. State Coordinators (SCs) oversee all state activities and set operation policies. Communications |
| |Coordinators (CCs) and Technology Coordinators (TCs) support their specialty interests at the local levels. |
| |Specialists support administration, partnerships and communications, technology, and training at the state level. |
| |Regional Coordinators (RCs) guide and supervise State Coordinators and serve on the National Leadership Team (NLT). |
|National Leadership Team & |The National Leadership Team (NLT) of volunteer Regional Coordinators (RC), National Committee Chairs, and key staff |
|National Office Staff |establish program policy and develop and implement AARP Tax-Aide goals and objectives. RCs support the decision |
| |making around program policies and high level procedural matters. National committees support the areas of |
| |leadership development, technology, and training. National Office staff coordinate program policies, maintain |
| |relationships with IRS and other key partners, provide administrative support to volunteer leaders, and |
| |collect/report program impact and other data. |
| | |
|Electronic Filing |AARP Tax-Aide offers free electronic filing at most sites nationwide using IRS provided tax preparation software. |
|Internet Tax Assistance |Since 1998, AARP Tax-Aide has had a 24-hour year-round Internet tax assistance service at its web site |
| |(taxaide). Taxpayers can pose questions online and get quality-reviewed answers back within a few |
| |business days. |
|Web Page Features |Located at taxaide, our website offers tax assistance, frequently asked tax questions and program |
| |information. Information on AARP Tax-Aide volunteer opportunities at individual program sites providing direct |
| |service to taxpayers is available. Information is also provided for volunteer leadership opportunities |
|Volunteer Extranet |The tavolunteers, site offers information and tools to assist tax assistance and leadership volunteers |
| |in performing their responsibilities of their AARP Tax-Aide position. |
|CyberTax E-Mail Newsletter |Any program volunteer with email is encouraged to receive CyberTax, a nationwide email newsletter containing periodic|
| |updates on the program, taxes, and IRS. Email your name, program position, and state to taxaide@ to join the|
| |CyberTax distribution list. |
|General volunteer position |Tax Assistance positions require annual training, successful completion of the IRS certification exam, and agreement |
|descriptions |to the IRS Standards of Conduct. |
| | |
| |Leadership positions coordinate program delivery by volunteers at sites at the local, state, or regional level or |
| |manage specific program activities such as technology, training, administration, or communications. Although tax |
| |training and certification is encouraged, it is not required for many leadership positions. Leadership position |
| |descriptions are provided on the taxaide and tavolunteers web sites. |
B. Tax-Aide’s Customers
|How Many Customers |During the 2008 tax season, from late January to April 15, we served nearly 3 million customers. Including the one-time |
| |economic stimulus payments, over the past 40 years, we have served more than 47.7 million customers. |
1. Who They Are (from 2007 survey)
|Customer Age | 9% 18-49 34% 70 – 79 |
| |9% 50-59 22% 80+ |
| |26% 60-69 |
|Customer Marital Status |36% Married 60% Not Married |
|Gender |66% Female 34% Male |
|Race/Ethnicity |85% White non-Hispanic 4% Hispanic |
| |2% Native American 8% Black or African American |
| |2% Asian/Pacific *% Other |
|Household Income (Annual) |44% Under $20,000 22% $30,000-$49,000 |
| |26% $20,000-$29,000 8% $50,000 or more |
|Repeat Customers |23% Once 39% Four+ Times |
| |37% Two - Three Times |
|Working Status |70% Fully Retired 30% Not Fully Retired |
|Customers’ Proximity to Site |56% 0 - 3 miles 13% 6 - 9 miles |
| |18% 4 - 5 miles 12% 10+ miles |
2. What They Think
| |Excellent |Good |Fair |Poor |
|Overall quality of AARP Tax-Aide’s Service |84% |15% |1% |0% |
|Helpfulness of Volunteers |87% |12% |1% |0% |
|Tax Knowledge of Volunteers |79% |18% |2% |1% |
|How well the Volunteer explained the tax return to them |79% |19% |2% |1% |
|Would they recommend AARP Tax-Aide to others? |97% Yes |2% Likely |1% No | |
|Who would help them with their taxes if they didn’t use AARP Tax-Aide? |56% |36% |6% |2 % |
| |Pay for assistance|Self or friend |IRS |Not file |
(Source: 2007 AARP Tax-Aide Customer Satisfaction Survey – results are rounded)
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2. AARP Tax-Aide Program Introduction
This Policy Manual contains the policy information necessary for you to perform your leadership role as a key part of the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Team. Presented first is AARP and the AARP Foundation organization, including the AARP Tax-Aide Program, as part of the IRS (TCE) Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program, followed by AARP Tax-Aide policy and guidelines.
This Policy Manual takes priority in policy matters over all guides and handbooks and will be amended, if necessary, during the tax year by letter or Cybertax.
The Tax-Aide Extranet is a critical resource that will contain all the applicable manuals and guides and will be kept up to date with any policy changes during the season. It also has other helpful program information and tools. To access this volunteer tax-aide extranet, go to the following internet web address: (use all lower case letters) http:/tavolunteers.
General Policy on Compensation, Conflict of Interest and Standards of Conduct
It is universal AARP Foundation policy that volunteers may not accept compensation for the performance of their duties. Compensation includes fees, gratuities, or other dispensations to volunteers or to members of the volunteer’s immediate family or household.
In addition to this general prohibition of compensation the following applies to all AARP Tax-Aide volunteers while performing their duties in connection with the AARP Tax-Aide program:
❖ Volunteers may not refer the preparation of any tax return to any specific paid preparer business including that in which they have a financial interest.
❖ Volunteers must never solicit any type of business from the taxpayers they assist or use the knowledge they have gained about the taxpayers for any direct or indirect benefit for themselves or any other individual(s).
❖ Volunteers must maintain the strict confidentiality and protect the security of all taxpayer information and records at all time, including but not limited to, the specifics listed in the Confidentiality and Security of Taxpayer Data section in the Policy Manual and the Counselor Digest.
❖ Volunteers may not use computer hardware or tax preparation software which has been purchased by, or donated, for the use of the AARP Tax-Aide program for their personal gain.
Volunteers working, in AARP or any other AARP Tax-Aide Foundation activity, which is similar in nature to outside employment or a commercial pursuit in which volunteers or members of volunteer’s family or household are involved, must advise their supervisor directly of the nature and extent of the involvement. In the case of an appearance of conflict, those supervisors
of the volunteer(s) will consult with higher levels of supervision within the AARP Tax-Aide Organization about any potential conflict of interest. This consultation will include the Regional or State Coordinator.
Volunteers, including AARP Tax-Aide volunteers, while representing the AARP Foundation or participating in an AARP Tax-Aide activity, shall not promote products, services, or political candidates or issues nor make use of their relationship with AARP, AARP Foundation or the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide for personal profit or the profit of any other individual(s). This includes, but is not limited to, membership drives.
As part of overall management of the program, policies and procedures are put in place to promote the efficient use of total program resources and in support of the many volunteers to work to provide services to the taxpayers who seek the free tax assistance that is offered.
All volunteers, regardless of their certification status, must sign the Standards of Conduct statement (IRS Form 13615). That statement has three bullets addressing the protection of taxpayer data:
❖ I will safeguard the confidentiality of taxpayer information.
❖ I will exercise reasonable care in the use and protection of equipment and supplies.
❖ I will not solicit business from taxpayers I assist or use the knowledge I have gained about them for any direct or indirect benefit for me or any other specific individual.
The AARP Tax-Aide management team takes these statements very seriously and expect that you, as a volunteer with the AARP Tax-Aide program, will as well.
Internal Revenue Service & State/Local Tax Agencies
1. Internal Revenue Service
The AARP Foundation is a sponsor of the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) (AARP Foundation Tax-Aide) program of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and, as such, the AARP Tax-Aide program maintains a close relationship with the IRS. In the IRS structure, AARP Tax-Aide coordinates program operations with Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication (SPEC). SPEC is part of the larger Wage and Investment Division within the IRS. National and Local IRS contacts for AARP Tax-Aide reside in the IRS Field Operations territory offices. Terms of the annual cooperative agreement define IRS SPEC’s responsibilities as listed below:
IRS SPEC Responsibilities:
❖ Develop and issue program requirements and guidelines,
❖ May also conduct periodic audits.
❖ Prepare and issue national training and administrative materials, as well as forms and publications required for the program.
❖ Arrange for volunteer preferential toll-free telephone access to the IRS that will provide needed technical information available during the course of the program.
❖ Clarify program guidelines for IRS territory offices.
❖ Ensure that territory offices monitor the TCE sponsoring organizations to make certain they are carrying out program responsibilities.
IRS SPEC Territory Offices Responsibilities:
❖ Monitor AARP Tax-Aide training workshops and classes and if requested, conduct the train-the-trainer workshops.
❖ Be the contact for ordering of tax forms and other program materials.
❖ Monitor activities to make certain that AARP Tax-Aide are carrying out program responsibilities.
❖ Serve as primary contact for all IRS matters for the AARP Tax-Aide state organizations.
❖ Provide staff to attend AARP Tax-Aide regional and state planning meetings and training workshops as requested.
❖ Visit and audit AARP Tax-Aide sites as required.
❖ Evaluate the territory program and prepare reports as required.
❖ Maintain the right to recommend that particular volunteers not be given Instructor teaching assignments if their tax knowledge or teaching abilities are deemed inadequate.
Local SPEC IRS offices do not dictate AARP Tax-Aide policy and can not direct local volunteers. Any and all policy for the AARP Tax-Aide program is developed at the AARP National Office.
AARP Foundation Coordination with IRS includes:
❖ Regional Coordinator contacts are IRS SPEC Area Directors.
❖ State Coordinator contacts are the SPEC Territory Managers.
❖ Tax-Aide Sate Management Team (SMT) and lower organizational levels contacts will be the Relationship Managers reporting to the IRS Territory Managers.
❖ IRS Territory Managers and/or Relationship Managers should be invited to attend AARP Tax-Aide state planning meetings.
❖ If situations occur between AARP Tax-Aide at the state level and the Territory Office that are not able to be resolved, the State Coordinator should take those concerns to his or her Regional Coordinator. Regional Coordinators will work with Area Directors and/or the AARP Tax-Aide National Office, as appropriate, to address issues needing clarification or resolution.
State and/or Local Tax Agencies
The AARP Tax-Aide program also maintains a relationship with state and/or local tax agencies in those areas which have a personal income tax. These agencies provide material and training support which enable volunteer Counselors to offer state and/or local tax assistance.
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3. Classification and Scope of Services
AARP Tax-Aide provides free tax assistance to taxpayers with low- and middle-income, with special attention to those age 60 and older. However, in keeping with terms of the IRS cooperative agreement, assistance with respect to Federal income tax returns provided to individuals under 60 and assistance with respect to state and local returns provided to anyone must comply with these guidelines:
❖ No charge is made for assistance
❖ Assistance to the elderly is given priority
❖ No additional expense is incurred by AARP Tax-Aide
Standard Service (during the standard 1040-filing season) is provided at sites throughout the country to low- and middle-income taxpayers with special attention given to those age 60 and older. Services are provided at sites that are available to the public as well as targeted sites for selected populations such as nursing homes, retirement centers, and Veteran Administration hospitals.
Extended Service (beyond the standard 1040-filing season) may be provided where necessary as long as that service is provided to taxpayers at no additional cost to the program. The service statistics must be reported to the National Office through the Administrative Specialist. Reimbursement related to extended services is restricted to leadership positions only. Extended Service should be listed as coordinating costs and is usually for problem resolution such as preparing a 1040x for a taxpayer with an incorrect return prepared at a site previously.
Non-Federal Service may be provided as long as the following guidelines are followed:
Priority is given to the target population (age 60 and older, low- and middle- income).
No additional cost is incurred for providing state/local assistance, either because of additional training costs or assistance costs. Refer to the section on reimbursements for specifics.
The growth of the AARP Tax-Aide program over the years has led to additional program services. To meet various needs, the following alternative services are available in many areas:
Shut-in Visits are provided as needed. Coordinators arrange home visits with the Counselor, who then schedules an appointment. Although these appointments generally are taxpayer-initiated, Counselors and Coordinators can offer such services to homebound 60+ taxpayers. For protection of Counselors and taxpayers, two volunteers with the program must attend each home visit. A mileage cap of 30 miles round trip exists for reimbursable travel to provide shut-in services. Refer to the section on expense reimbursements for specific directions about this mileage restriction for shut-in services.
Foreign Language assistance is offered at some sites. The AARP Tax-Aide program makes an effort to recruit individuals with foreign language skills to serve those who are not familiar with English. Depending on the community, Counselors offer services in as many as 18 languages, including American Sign Language (ASL) for the hearing impaired. This service should be publicized at the AARP Tax-Aide site if at all possible. Taxpayers may also provide their own interpreters; however, the AARP Tax-Aide program does not pay for interpreter services except, and only as a last resort, for ASL for the hearing impaired in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (National Office approval is required in advance of contracting paid ASL service).
Internet Tax Assistance service has been offered by AARP Tax-Aide since 1998 at its website (taxaide). Taxpayers can pose questions online 24-hours a day year-round and get quality-reviewed answers back within a few business days. Interested volunteers with web access can sign up online at tavolunteers. There volunteers will find a link to the online tax assistance registration form.
Services within Scope
Services within scope includes tax topics covered in IRS volunteer training materials or in AARP Tax-Aide training classes provided that Counselors have been qualified under AARP Tax-Aide procedures.
Counselors are not to deal with topics (including state returns) on which they have not received AARP Tax-Aide training for the year in question. A State/Local Tax Revenue Authority or the State Coordinator may waive the requirement for training or training materials for those states or forms which are generally agreed to be so simple that no training is needed.
However, a State Coordinator, in consultation with his/her Regional Coordinator, can authorize requirements for the state/local tax training materials.
AARP Tax-Aide Program Organization Chart
AARP Tax-Aide regional boundaries are predetermined by the AARP Tax-Aide National Office. State boundaries apply except for California, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. These heavily populated states are split, with multiple AARP Tax-Aide “states” within their geographic borders. In all cases, the boundaries must encompass entire 5-digit zip codes and should be clearly understood by all volunteers and delineated by the responsible supervising Coordinator. These boundaries are stored within the national database (VMIS) and impacts site records and activity reporting. Any changes to these boundaries should be communicated to the National Office to ensure that the national database is updated in a timely manner.
Within states, State Coordinators may organize into whatever geographic districts will provide the most efficient, equitable, or manageable division of all the sites within their states. Generally, a district is the responsibility of one District Coordinator. District Coordinators divide their district into workable entities for assignment to Local Coordinators with the approval of the State Coordinator.
4. Volunteer Recruitment and Appointments
❖ Recruitment of new volunteers is essential to the AARP Tax-Aide program. It is the responsibility of all AARP Tax-Aide volunteers to actively recruit new volunteers by being alert for individuals who might be interested in participating in the program.
❖ Recruiting must be done on a non-discriminatory basis without consideration of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
❖ Recruitment of AARP Tax-Aide volunteers and coordinators from diverse populations must be stressed, especially when there is a significant segment of diverse racial/ethnic population with the district. Special attention must be given to potential volunteers that support the local community language(s).
❖ Year round recruitment is supported by the AARP Tax-Aide web site: taxaide and the toll-free number 888-OURAARP (888-687-2277). The National office will forward all potential volunteer names and contract information it receives to the Prospective Volunteer Coordinator or the State Coordinator designate, for follow up.
❖ Program recruiting requires extensive outreach at the national, regional, state, district and local levels all year long by the state PVC, PCS, and district recruiting and communications coordinators. This outreach includes radio and television public service announcements, articles in local publications, AARP Publications, Internet solicitation, presentations to outside organizations, and assistance from the AARP State Office via the state’s Community Outreach Associate Directors.
❖ Quantifiable data shows that the vast majority of new volunteers come from the local level. Particularly effective is to provide all AARP Tax-Aide site sponsors one page recruiting information suitable for placement in the site bulletin boards or in their news letters.
❖ E-mails and fax copies are effective when requesting public service announcement with local radio and television stations requests.
❖ It is effective to utilize the state-wide 2-1-1 benefit telephone line and/or a local telephone number for potential volunteers to contact directly into a live AARP Tax-Aide coordinator or specialist.
❖ State Coordinators should establish a procedure for all potential new coordinators and counselors to be assigned a mentor. The mentor should promptly contact the potential leader or Counselor and supply helpful job information to assist with the transition to a leadership role or begin service as Counselor or other volunteer role. To this end, it is also important for mentors to establish an ongoing relationship with the volunteer and be available to provide timely guidance, answer questions and to determine when the volunteer has hit saturation and may need some encouragement. When appropriate, the mentor should share information or resources such as job description(s) and pertinent materials such as PBT training and Tax-Wise access for review and practice before formal training, and web sites such as tavolunteers, the AARP Tax-Aide Extranet.
Coordinator and specialists appointments are made according to the chart below for a term of one or two years as shown below. See position descriptions in position guides or on the volunteer Extranet for details. Counselors are certified from the date they pass the test up to December 31st of that year Online counselors are certified from the successfully passing the current IRS certification test until January 15 of the next year.
|Position |Appointed By |Term |Form of Appointment |
|Regional Coordinator |National Office |Maximum of |Letter from |
|National Committee Chairs | |3-2 Year cycles, 6/1-5/31 |National Office |
| | |(begin in odd-numbered years) | |
|Regional Advisors |Regional Coordinator |2 Year cycles that can be renewed |Letter from Regional Coordinator |
| | |multiple times | |
|State Coordinator |Regional Coordinator |Maximum of |Letter from Regional Coordinator |
| |with concurrence of |3-2 Year cycles, 6/1-5/31 |* |
| |Staff liaison |(begin in even-numbered years) | |
|Administrative, Partnership and |State Coordinator with concurrence |2 Year cycle, 6/1-5/31 |Appointment Confirmation Letter |
|Communications, Technology, and |of Regional Coordinator |(begin in even-numbered years) |by State Coordinator * |
|Training Specialists | | | |
|District Coordinator |State Coordinator with concurrence |1 Year cycle, 8/1-7/31 |Appointment Confirmation Letter |
|and Prospective Volunteer |of Regional Coordinator | |by State Coordinator * |
|Coordinator | | | |
|Local, Communications, Technology, |District Coordinator with |1 Year cycle, 8/1-7/31 |Appointment Confirmation Letter |
|Training, and Administration |concurrence of State Coordinator | |by District Coordinator * |
|Coordinator | | | |
|Instructor |DC with concurrence of TRS |1 Year cycle, 8/1-7/31 |Appointment Confirmation Letter |
| | | |by District or State Coordinator |
| | | |and passing grade of IRS test |
|National Committee Members |Committee Chair with concurrence of|2 Year cycles |Appointment Confirmation Letter |
| | | |from National Office |
| |Staff liaison | | |
|Tax Counselors and Electronic |LC with concurrence of Instructor |Date they pasted the test through |Passing Grade on IRS Certifying |
|Return Originators |who graded the test. |October 15 |Test and proper notification via |
| | | |listing to the IRS |
|Position |Appointed By |Term |Form of Appointment |
| | | | |
|Client Facilitators and |Local Coordinator |Mid-Jan through October 15 |Signature of IRS Standards of |
|Non-counselors | | |Conduct |
|Shift Coordinator |Local Coordinator |1 Year cycles that can be renewed |None |
| | |multiple times | |
|Other Positions |By Supervising Coordinator |Maximum of 2 years, Unlimited terms|Appointment Letter by Supervising|
| | | |Coordinator |
*If indicated, the confirmation letters can be distributed by the National Office based on the information supplied in the Option Sheet.
For volunteers within the State Management Teams, a standard biography form is requested to be filled out and submitted to the National Office. In addition, this and other forms referenced in this policy manual are available on the extranet.
Procedures for Appointing State Coordinators
Regional Coordinators (RCs) recruit State Coordinator candidates from within the program and, if needed the broader AARP membership network, State AARP Leadership and/or general public. The RC notifies National staff liaison and the State AARP Office Associate State Director at the start of the recruitment process. The Associate State Director is given the opportunity to participate in the interview process. RCs make selections after consulting with their staff liaison, advise candidates of their selection, and submit requests for an appointment confirmation letter to the National Staff Liaison using the biography forms. The Regional Coordinator will send a copy of the appointment letter to the Associate State Director.
Initial terms for candidates appointed in the midst of a two-year cycle will be shortened, ending when the current cycle expires. At that time they will be appointed on the regular two-year cycle not to exceed three full two year cycles.
Procedures for Appointing all Other Coordinators and/or Specialists
Following the annual evaluation of all coordinators and specialists, State Coordinators will appoint state management team members effective June 1, adhering to the two-year cycle. State Coordinators contact District Coordinators in August to confirm which Coordinators and Instructors are being re-appointed. Names and addresses of new appointees must be submitted to the Administrative Specialist (ADS) using E-Mail or the personnel form from the Extranet or on an approved alternative. The Administrative Specialist will update the online Volunteer Management Information System (VMIS) directly.
The National Office produces and provides to the State Coordinators confirmation letters for coordinators, Instructors and specialists after the VMIS system is updated by the ADS. The State Coordinator will decide who will distribute the confirmation letters.
Reappointment letters should be sent to reporting coordinators, specialists and/or Instructors by their supervising Coordinators. Sample confirmation and non-reappointment letters are found on the Extranet. Leadership changes throughout the year must be reported to Administrative Specialists immediately who will update the VMIS. Refer to the section on Volunteer Rosters for policies to update rosters with Leadership changes.
Transition of Files and Equipment
Upon leaving a coordinator position, the coordinators must deliver to their successor or their supervising coordinator all records, files, and materials related to that position to assist them in assuming their responsibilities. If the coordinator is leaving the program entirely, they must turn over any and all AARP Tax-Aide equipment as well as all IRS equipment to their successor or their supervising coordinator. AARP Tax-Aide equipment is defined as any equipment purchased by AARP Tax-Aide funds (either directly by the National Tax-Aide Office or by a volunteer who receives a pre-approved reimbursement for the expense), or equipment that was donated to the AARP Tax-Aide program or directly to AARP Tax-Aide volunteers for the AARP Tax-Aide program.
State Coordinators should maintain the following documents to deliver to their successor:
❖ Contact List (AARP, IRS Tax Specialist, Sites)
❖ Activity, Expense, and Personnel Report
❖ State evaluation (if applicable)
❖ Possible training and meeting locations and plans
❖ Listing of any unresolved issues
NLT and State Coordinators can have access to view records and run reports on-line in the National Volunteer database, VMIS. Such access is granted once the new NLT member and/or State Coordinator has successfully completed the on-line tutorial administered by the National Office.
Volunteer Training and Testing
Training at all levels is important for compliance with IRS commitments and continued AARP Tax-Aide program development and taxpayer satisfaction. As the program grows, improved procedures, new strategies, and greater resources become increasingly important. Training in the AARP Tax-Aide program takes four forms: Leadership Training, Policy and Administrative Training, Tax Law Training, and ERO Training.
New volunteer state coordinators and SMT specialists must participate in training provided by the National Committees each summer. These leaders will spend two days learning critical information to assist them in carrying out the responsibilities of their position. Every effort will be made to schedule these formal training sessions with sufficient advanced notice so as to minimize new volunteer state coordinator’s and SMT specialist’s scheduling conflicts.
When new volunteer state coordinators and SMT specialists can not attend the scheduled summer training, they must coordinate with their volunteer supervisor and the National Office’s regional Assistant National Director to receive alternative training.
❖ On an as needed and rotating basis, a full specialized cadre will be invited to summer training. For example, the full cadre of TRSs was invited to summer training to learn and prepare for full program use of Process Based Training.
❖ The Training Specialists coordinates required tax law training for Instructors.
❖ Instructors conducts required tax law and ERO training, as required, for all counselors using the IRS, state, AARP Tax-Aide and AARP Tax-Aide Counselor Digest materials. A Counselor Digest is to be distributed and reviewed with each Counselor along with other training materials, especially the Statement of Understanding for Counselors in the Counselor Digest, Site Guidelines, the section on Taxpayer Confidentiality and Security of Taxpayer Data in that same document, and activity reporting.
❖ All coordinators, Instructors and counselors must receive formal policy and administrative face-to-face training, expected to be about three hours in duration.
❖ The Training Specialist, Technology Specialists and/or district Technology Coordinators conduct E-File and ERO training classes for all TCs.
❖ All coordinators, Instructors and counselors must receive formal policy and administrative face-to-face training annually. A new PowerPoint presentation was developed by the National Office for this purpose. It is located on the Volunteer Extranet. (see Policy & Administrative training on the following page.)
❖ The Training Specialist, Technology Specialists and/or district Technology Coordinators conduct E-File and ERO training classes for all Instructors, counselors and EROs.
Annual Meetings and On-The-Job-Training
❖ Volunteer coordinators, specialists, Counselors, EROs, Client Facilitators are continually provided On-The-Job-Training by their volunteer supervisor.
❖ State Coordinators attend Regional meetings held by the Regional Coordinators each October.
❖ State Management Team Specialists and District Coordinators attend the State Coordinator’s State Meetings These state meetings happen after the Regional Coordinators’ October meetings to ensure that new or otherwise important information presented in the regional meetings is made available during state meetings. Also at this
❖ meeting, State Management Team Specialists conduct specialized training to ensure that DCs have sufficient knowledge of admin, tech, tax training and partnership/communications to lead their districts.
❖ The State Management Team Specialists stay in contact with DCs and district level specialists positions to continue to provide ad hoc training and impart needed information for effective district level operations. District level coordinators similarly stay in touch with local volunteers including Local Coordinators to provide continual on-the-job training and information.
❖ Policy and procedures revisions are also provided via the annual newsletters Happenings, regular AARP Tax-Aide Cybertax and technical bulletins. AARP Tax-Aide volunteer should not act on any IRS policy, procedure, or request for information unless first confirmed it is appropriate for this program by an AARP Tax-Aide volunteer leader.
Policy and Administrative Training
Program policy and administrative training is conducted during all meetings with Coordinators, Instructors, Counselors, EROs, and Client Facilitatrs, etc. as well as informally throughout the year by supervising Coordinators. Meetings, correspondence, email, the volunteer extranet, Cybertax, and technology bulletins are used to convey new or revised procedures. To promote greater awareness of the policy, grant requirement, and administrative issues, training on these topics is required for all volunteers, especially counselors. Items to be presented include, but are not limited to:
❖ Program Scope
❖ Standards of Conduct
❖ Required Quality Procedures (Intake/QR Form, 2nd Person QR, etc.)
❖ Confidentiality and Security of Taxpayer Data including how to report data loss
❖ How to and the Importance of Reporting Service (Activity Reporting/SIDNs)
❖ Reimbursement Options and procedures
❖ Insurance issues
❖ All other Site and Counselor Guidelines and Policies not specifically mentioned above in that similarly named section of the Counselor Digest
❖ For District, Local and Site Coordinators, all Quality Site Requirements not specifically mentioned above
Two presentations have been developed for use in conducting this training and are available on the extranet:
❖ For all local and site coordinators – Quality Site Requirements
❖ For all volunteers – AARP Tax-Aide Policy & Administrative Training
Tax Law Training
The TRS selects the presenters who will conduct Instructor Workshops. These individuals need to be selected for their experience in teaching adult learners, their oral presentations skills and tax knowledge. The TRS can provide preliminary or separate training for new Instructors. The typical agenda for Instructor Workshop should include tax law updates and changes, as well as
coverage of administrative and technology updates provided by the ADS and TCS. The IRS can be called upon to assist with tax law instruction if necessary. The NTTC has developed a set of
Power Point slides that can also be used to assist with tax law training. The slides which incorporated the integrating training approach are available on the extranet, tavolunteers. See the Training Guide for a more detailed explanation.
Electronic Return Originator (ERO) Training
Instructors, DCs and TCs provide TaxWise training at the local level for certification using the Integrated training approach. ERO training is separate. Understanding that the ERO has a critical role in the accepted submission of an accurate taxpayer’s return to the IRS, effective training of the ERO is very important. Special training needs to be made for EROs in the areas of ensuring all returns are accepted (or rejects processed) once a standard file transmission process and security procedure are developed. A preferred training approach is a special session at counselor training for EROs only. (All EROs must be certified and therefore are expected to otherwise attend counselor training.) An optional or even supplemental approach would be one-on-one training with an Instructor who is an ERO who could continue a role as a mentor for a new ERO during the first season of transmitting returns. Training materials for ERO training created by the NTTC with assistance from the NTC is located on the Extranet under the Training tab.
To conduct this program, Instructors are selected from volunteer ranks, or recruited based on their tax background and experience, as well as their teaching skills. Volunteer Instructors must keep abreast of changes in the tax laws and tax forms, and develop effective training techniques. Instructors attend Instructor workshops which are scheduled in mid to late November and December. The recommended agenda is two to three days and should include training techniques, program policy, and administrative procedures, and passing the advanced portion of the IRS open-book
The Training Specialist will send written invitations only to Instructors who will teach 10 hours or more. In some states there are teams that provide training. Due to financial constraints of the program, there is a restriction on the number of volunteer instructors who can claim reimbursement for mileage and other approved expenses related to workshops. This reimbursement restriction is a maximum of two instructors per counselor class plus all new instructors. Refer to the section on reimbursements for more details. Coordinators should not attend Instructor Workshops unless they will also serve as Instructors teaching 10 hours or more. Attendance at the workshop is required, but may be waived for individual Instructors at the discretion of the TRS with the concurrence of the State Coordinator.
Counselors receive annual training which includes income tax information, procedures for preparing tax forms, program policy, and administrative reporting. The training sessions are generally three to five days. Experienced Counselors may require only a refresher course of a few days of classes, or a more in depth training in tax laws and program policy and administrative changes. Training in e-filing is included now as part of the new Process Based Training (PBT) in Pub 4491. All Counselors must attend the policy and administrative issues training, no exceptions.
Counselors must be certified annually and will assist taxpayers only on those topics that are within scope. Scope includes tax topics covered in IRS volunteer training materials or in AARP Tax-Aide training classes provided that Counselors have been qualified under AARP Tax-Aide procedures below. Counselors are not to deal with topics (including state returns) on which they have not received AARP Tax-Aide training. Training for state returns must be a part of the counselor training class and training should be limited to the state where the class is being given, neighboring states, and those that have a large “snowbird” populations. A State/Local Tax Revenue Authority or the State Coordinator may waive the requirement for training or training materials for those states or forms which are generally agreed to be so simple that no training is needed. However, a State Coordinator, in consultation with his/her Regional Coordinator, can authorize requirements for the state/local tax training materials.
The course must include on program policy and administrative procedures. For simplification and standardization, a Power Point training module was developed for local leaders and Instructors to use to conduct program policy and administrative training for counselors, EROs, Client Facilitators and any other non-counselors positions. The IRS test may be taken at home or in class at the State Coordinator’s discretion. Graded Counselors’ test answer booklets will be returned to them. The use of PBT Integrated Training materials provided by the National Tax Training Committee is recommended to supplement other Power Point trainings that Instructors and District Coordinators use on program policy and administrative procedures.
Tax training materials, including tax forms and publications provided by the IRS is to be used. Use of supplemental or non-standard materials is not cost-effective and is not reimbursable. Refer to the section on reimbursements for more details.
Program policy and administrative material is provided by the National Office. State material is usually provided by the state taxation agency upon request.
District Coordinators and/or Local Coordinators work with Instructors, and the Training Specialist, to arrange training locations, schedules, and the delivery of materials. Local Coordinators notify Counselors about the classes by phone, mail, or email. Detailed information about Counselor Training classes will be found in the IRS Instructor’s Guide which each Instructor receives.
All AARP Tax-Aide counselors are required to be trained and certified at the Advanced level of the IRS training materials. State Coordinators may authorize Counselors to be trained and certified in Military/Special Issues of the IRS training materials. Additionally, State
Coordinators may authorize Counselors to be trained and qualified in the preparation of Form 1040X; provided that any Counselor trained and qualified to prepare Form 1040X for a particular year must also have been certified for that tax year for the tax matters addressed on each Form 1040X.
Link and Learn
Link and Learn is an e-learning option as a supplemental training tool. Counselors needing a certification are required to come to class as policy and administrative training. New this year is the option for Instructors who have been instructing for at least two years in the AARP Tax-Aide program to certify by taking the IRS test via Link and Learn. The TRS’s are also able to take the test via Link and Learn. The Link and Learn Taxes application has all of the modules and volunteers can work at their own pace. Also new in 08-09 is the Link and Learn Practice Lab. The Link and Learn Practice lab will integrate the IRS provided tax preparation software into its e-learning application. The software will contain tax year 2008 programming and tax law. Volunteers will be able to log on and practice any time of the day.
AARP Tax-Aide policy requires that a tax return be reviewed by a second certified volunteer. Quality review MUST be done on every return.
Quality review efforts are undertaken to ensure that taxpayers leave the site with a complete and accurate return. It is part of the process that increases the confidence in our AARP Tax-Aide service to those we serve. Quality Review is a process in which a completed return is systematically checked and verified by a second counselor. It includes verifying important items like filing status, addresses on W-2s, and Social Security numbers, as well as checking that entries are correct and tabulated accurately.
Quality review helps other volunteers as well as taxpayers. It makes the job of the ERO more effective as fewer returns reject are rejected. Also, when using carry-forward data; it helps to assure that the information is right for the Counselor and quality reviewer next year. It also helps volunteers learn from one another.
There are several ways to perform a quality review. When e-filing, it is strongly recommended that the quality review take place on the computer. Quality reviews done from a printed return do not identify e-file errors which can lead to rejects and waste paper and ink if a return needs correcting. Depending on the size of the site and the availability of equipment, there are two general methods for performing a quality review on an e-file return:
❖ In the first method, the return is moved to a separate quality review computer or done on the server at network sites. If not on a server, the return is copied (using the “Backup”
feature) from the preparer’s computer via removable media. It is then restored to a second computer where the quality review is completed and an e-file is created. The return is then printed and explained to the client by the quality review Counselor.
❖ In the second method, the return remains on the preparer’s computer and the quality review is completed there. A second Counselor (or other certified volunteer) sits at the preparer’s computer to quality review the return, create the e-file, print the return, and explain it to the client. With this method, some sites designate one or more Counselors to exclusively do quality review on all returns, while other sites have counselors who switch places to quality review one another’s return.
Quality review has been a program standard for many years. When done correctly and consistently, quality reviews improve the return accuracy and fewer rejects and more satisfied clients. All sites will be using the AARP combined Intake and Quality Review form.
A process for QR is an important part of training for any Counselor expected to perform the OR function. A Power Point training presentation is available for use in counselor classes on the Extranet in time for counselor training.
To qualify as an AARP Tax-Aide Counselor, Instructor, or ERO a volunteer must be certified annually. The certification process is crucial, since it lends credibility to the qualifications of AARP Tax-Aide volunteers and is a three-step process:
Step one: Pass the test. Counselors must be certified at the Advanced Level.
Step two: Sign the Volunteer Standards of Conduct that is provided in the test packet. These forms must be kept by local leaders until December 31 and then destroyed.
Step three: AARP Tax-Aide National Office and the IRS are notified of those who pass the test and are participating in the AARP Tax-Aide program for the positions of Counselors, EROs, or Instructors.
The IRS Student Guide will have three segments: Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. Additional segments related to Military and International are available within the Advanced segment. Counselors, with the approval of their State Coordinators may be certified for Military and International levels. All Counselors must be certified at the Advanced Level.
Instructors grade the test and inform the volunteer by returning their graded test. In the event a volunteer does not pass the test, the volunteer can pass a retest in order to gain certification. The Instructor or another leader (determined by the SC) must keep the counselor signed Volunteer Standards of Conduct until December 31.
The Test answer sheet (Pub 4189) can be ordered by the TRS (or state designee) for their state from local IRS’s Tax Specialist or Tax Analyst after becoming certified by passing the test or using the IRS “Link and Learn” and providing its certification to the IRS Tax Specialist or Tax Analyst. The IRS Tax Specialist or Tax Analyst may also grade the TRS test when requested to.
The TRS will provide instructions on where and how many booklets are to be shipped. The TRS (or state designee) for that state will be responsible for managing and controlling distribution of Pub 4189 and/or the answer key. Only certified instructors will receive or have access to Pub 4189 for use in counselor training.
The SC, with the SMT, must establish procedures for verifying and ensuring that a list of certified counselors (names only) reaches the IRS by the third business day of February. In addition to the IRS, information about certified counselors must be provided to leaders in AARP Tax-Aide, including the ADS for updating the national database, the appropriate LCs and DCs, so they have documentation of which volunteers are certified to assist taxpayers in the upcoming tax season, and other members of the SMT as appropriate. IRS Form 13206, the Volunteer Assistance Summary Report, is NOT applicable to AARP Tax-Aide. At the state level, the IRS is simply given a list of certified volunteers and the date that each volunteer passed the test and the level they passed. For AARP Tax-Aide volunteers, this level must be at least the Advanced level. A report is available within the National Database (VMIS) which can be used to provide this information, but is dependent on the information being updated in VMIS prior to the third business day in February.
Counselors who have failed to pass either the original test or a retest are not eligible for certification and must not be assigned to AARP Tax-Aide sites as Counselors. Late recruits, even those received during the season, and those volunteers who did not pass the test may be able to be used as Client Facilitators at the site if they missed tax training. Late recruits can be allowed to prepare taxes for clients, even if they miss training, by self-study and working closely with a seasoned Counselor once they pass the test and are certified.
In December, District Coordinators and Local Coordinators will receive an All Volunteer Roster from the Administrative Specialist of all the Counselors who reported to them in the previous year. Coordinators will then follow the roster updating procedure outlined later in this policy manual to complete the certification process.
After a Counselor successfully completes the training and passes the test, the lead Instructor should ensure that each Counselor has an AARP Tax-Aide name card and plastic holder.
The District and/or Local Coordinator assigns volunteers to the AARP Tax-Aide sites based on program requirements and not on Counselor preference. At least two Counselors must be assigned to sites to ensure quality review of returns. New Counselors are placed with experienced Counselors for support and encouragement. If Counselors cannot fulfill their assignments, it is essential that they arrange for certified substitutes or contact their supervisory Coordinator in advance. Special assignments for shut-in visits, isolated locations, foreign languages, and other special events may occur.
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5. AARP Tax-Aide Sites
Site Operational Guidelines
Local Coordinators must ensure that the site guidelines listed below are followed:
❖ Taxpayers maintain responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of their tax forms; therefore, volunteers must explain and clients must review their returns.
❖ Volunteers must maintain the strict confidentiality of all taxpayer information and records (see section on Confidentiality).
❖ Counselors must never solicit business from taxpayers they assist or use the knowledge they have gained about them for any direct or indirect benefit for themselves or any other specific individual.
❖ All program volunteers must refuse any type of compensation, tips, etc. that may be offered.
❖ Counselors should encourage taxpayers to participate, to the extent possible, in completing their own tax forms. Counselors must explain the tax return form to the taxpayer.
❖ All sites must use the AARP Tax-Aide version of the Intake/Quality Review Sheet. The use of the Intake/Quality Review Sheet is mandated by the IRS grant and hence AARP Tax-Aide policy. Its use, therefore, can not be rescinded by any leader.
❖ Counselors must mark the site’s SIDN in the preparer’s box of form 1040 series.
❖ Counselors will not sign, initial, or identify themselves on the tax form in any way.
❖ Counselors must provide the taxpayer with the original return if done manually or one copy of the return to be e-filed.
❖ Counselors must not retain any taxpayer records or returns nor retain copies of them, even temporarily, except for electronic filing purposes. Retention for e-filing must comply with AARP Tax-Aide policy (see section on Confidentiality and Security).
❖ All returns must be deleted off all computers at the end of the season.
❖ Copies of paper returns can only be provided at no cost to the program, i.e. copy costs may not be reimbursed.
❖ All tax return preparation assistance, except shut-ins and electronic filing transmission, must be performed at the site. Tax return preparation assistance is never permissible in Counselors’ homes.
❖ Counselors are not to deal with topics on which they have not received IRS or AARP Tax-Aide training.
❖ Counselors must refer taxpayers with complicated or complex tax returns, which involve matters outside the scope of their training, to professional tax preparers or to the IRS. No specific paid preparer or business can be named.
❖ Counselors must record each interview or telephone call on the Site Sign-in Sheet during or immediately following the assistance.
❖ Coordinators should ensure that sites have adequate supplies to assist taxpayers.
❖ On-site quality review of each tax return prepared is required. To ensure quality return and for the protection of volunteers, at least two Counselors should be assigned to every site and must be assigned to every new site.
❖ Quality review of returns. A second experienced Counselor Quality Review of a taxpayer’s return is required and is critical to ensure accuracy.
❖ Counselors serve taxpayers with courtesy and confidentiality, regardless of sex, race, religion, national origin, creed, age, or disabilities.
❖ Counselors can deny service if they feel that the person is giving misleading tax information or refer service if the Counselor does not feel qualified on a particular issue(s).
❖ Once a Counselor is certified, they retain that certification up to December 31st of the following year. Outside the standard 1040-filing season, on-line tax assistance is provided. However, a Counselor can not receive reimbursement for any expenses they incur except for the period during the official tax season which ends in April.
❖ Counselors working on amended returns must be certified for the year of the return.
With electronic filing, the use of larger sites is strongly recommended. Larger sites provide:
❖ better utilization of computer resources and volunteers,
❖ more tax and computer on-site expertise,
❖ a better opportunity for quality review of all returns, especially designated reviewer(s), and.
❖ greater visibility to the public and easier word-of-mouth referrals.
AARP Tax-Aide is proud of and will certainly continue to support volunteers’ long standing dedicated service to rural taxpayers. However, service to the most rural/isolated locations may not be required on a weekly basis; nor should one-person sites be established. Therefore, other cost-effective options should be considered. Refer to the Reimbursement Section for policies related to high mileage costs related to travel to and from isolated locations. Ideas to provide service and manage related costs include:
❖ Sending a team of two or more Counselors several times during the season.
❖ Assessing availability of service in nearby towns or by other providers.
❖ Requesting that persons be brought to the nearest site by senior van, carpool, etc.
❖ Referring the taxpayer to the IRS.
❖ In cases of hospice care type visits, a second person from the facility should be present as the service is being provided.
AARP Tax-Aide sites generally are selected by Local Coordinators, since they are most familiar with convenient locations. They are responsible for securing as many sites as necessary and assigning the appropriate number of Counselors as determined by potential target population in the area. All new sites must have at least two counselors assigned to them and must be able to e-file returns.
Because the target population for AARP Tax-Aide assistance is low- and moderate-income taxpayers with special attention to those age 60 and over, AARP Tax-Aide sites should be located in communities where they are most accessible to these taxpayers. Although a Coordinator is free to select any available location as an AARP Tax-Aide site, there are several important criteria, including the needs of older adults and the handicapped. When securing sites, the free and voluntary aspects of the program should be emphasized and the space must be provided rent-free. Assistance should be provided at a public place, but where privacy will assure confidentiality. Counselors must not provide service in their own homes. Specifically, an AARP Tax-Aide site should be:
❖ Set up in public places convenient to the older population and accessible to the handicapped.
❖ Convenient to public transportation and/or parking.
❖ Conducive to confidential interviews.
❖ Well-lighted, with tables and chairs provided.
❖ Accessible to restrooms and telephones.
❖ Willing to post AARP Tax-Aide literature to inform taxpayers of the service and to direct them to the assistance area.
❖ Rent-free. Since the program offers a free public service, the site must be provided at no cost. AARP Tax-Aide cannot pay for any heat, water, janitorial, or related cost.
❖ Free from any suggestion of gratuity, donation or solicitation from AARP Tax-Aide or the local institution. In addition, programs offering site space should not solicit donations or membership from individual taxpayers who receive AARP Tax-Aide service, or imply in any way that donations will help to continue the tax assistance services in the future. If a taxpayer, of their own accord, wishes to give a donation to the AARP Tax-Aide program, they should be directed to the address on the back of the tax record envelope and asked to list “AARP Tax-Aide” and the zip code of the site where they received the service in the memo section of the check.
Once a site has been secured, Coordinators should attempt to keep it on a continuing basis for each tax season. For example, banks and savings and loan organizations will frequently recognize the public relations benefits of providing space, and may offer sites in several of their branches. Many libraries and senior centers have large conference rooms. Hospitals that have senior programs are usually very willing to make space available. However, Coordinators should attempt to secure several sponsors in an area, dependent upon taxpayer demand, rather than rely on a single business or organization with multiple locations.
Proof of insurability can be provided to aid in negotiating access to a new or continuing site. The AARP general business insurance covers all business related activity. Refer to the section on Insurance for more specifics.
Tax-Aide Site Identification Numbers (SIDN)
Each AARP Tax-Aide site has a unique nine digit SIDN (which is issued following an IRS SPEC numbering system that uses the format shown below. A site must have a unique SIDN to order e-filing software for use at e-filing sites and to be listed in the AARP and IRS National Databases (VMIS and STARS). The state’s Administrative Specialist assigns the SIDNs and maintains this information. It is with the SIDN that the IRS quantifies the number of taxpayers served by the AARP Tax-Aide program related to federal returns. This number is required by the IRS to be used by volunteers to identify every tax return, paper and e-file. The meaning behind the digits consist of:
Digit 1: S
Digits 2 & 3: IRS Territory
Digit 4: (always 0)
Digit 5: AARP Tax-Aide site (always 5)
Digits 6-9*: Assigned by AARP Tax-Aide to indicate district and site. Also,
designates “state” when more than one “state” is within an IRS Territory.
*Note: for more specifics regarding digits 6-9, refer to the Administrative Manual. For more specifics regarding the EFIN, refer to the Technology Management Guide.
It is critical that site data (dates, times, location, etc.) be recorded correctly in VMIS so that the toll free number, website, and the IRS can accurately refer clients to sites. In addition, current and accurate site information in VMIS promotes easier activity reporting during the tax season. From VMIS, at the beginning of July the National Office will offer each Administrative Specialist a prior year’s site listing to revise and submit new sites.
Administrative Specialists with access to the VMIS should update site lists in the same manner as they do volunteer rosters. The Administrative Specialist will notify the National Office when this process is complete so that the National Office will be aware of any outstanding issues or concerns with the information recorded in VMIS. Any changes to the site information once this notification is provided should be entered into VMIS by the ADS as quickly as possible to ensure that site information is current and accurate.
Those Administrative Specialists without access to VMIS will update hard copy site lists and submit new site forms to their Sr. Field Support Technician who will input them into the database. Any changes required to site information after the Sr. Field Support Technician has updated the database should be sent into the National Office to be entered into VMIS as quickly as possible, so clients can be referred correctly.
In September, a complete listing of all sites in VMIS is given to the IRS so that the IRS STARS system can be refreshed. Then, after this initial feed of information, weekly updates are sent electronically to the National IRS STARS database administrator. The IRS database administrator in turn updates STARS with any changes that were made to the sites in VMIS.
Tax assistance services may be set up by the Coordinator based on walk-in service, prior appointment or a combination of both. Appointment basis requires that a volunteer, or a person at the site, receives the calls and schedule appointments from an advertised telephone number. A schedule is arranged for the best time and place for the taxpayer to see a Counselor. It is wise to remind the taxpayer in advance what documents are needed. Missed appointments, or failure to bring the necessary documents, result in lost time and frustration for all concerned. If a site is a walk-in site, priority must be given to those 60 and older in accordance with grant provisions.
At all sites, a sign-in sheet (listing taxpayer name only; no other identifying information may be requested) is used to establish the sequence of interviews and record the assistance provided for reporting purposes. One volunteer may direct the taxpayer to a waiting Counselor or indicate a less busy time at a later date if all the Counselors are busy. Judicious scheduling can eliminate long waits and provide for a smooth operation.
Sites should be open for at least a minimum of four hours for each week during the tax season. In an effort to minimize the costs related to mileage, yet still provide services to the taxpayers, sites that have a limited number of clients, should schedule those hours in large blocks of time. For example: rather than having a site open for four hours each week during March, it should be open three days during the month for five or six hours at a time. Days a site is open is determined by the site and volunteers’ availability and the demand for taxpayer service in the area. Assignments, schedules, and appointments should be given to the Counselors as early as possible and publicized to the community appropriately.
All AARP Tax-Aide sites must use the following because of IRS grant and legal considerations:
❖ AARP Tax-Aide Poster (D143) – Displays AARP non-discrimination language required by the IRS grant. The IRS non-discrimination poster is not acceptable because it references non-discrimination based on age. The grant we have with the IRS is specifically targeted to taxpayers age 60 and over.
❖ AARP Tax-Aide Intake Sheets (D18445) – These sheets must be used with each taxpayer helped with a return. The AARP Intake Sheet contains required legal language regarding data retention. The IRS version does not stress the data retention in the way required by our legal department. As a result, the IRS Intake Sheets are not acceptable. The Intake Sheet should not be confused with the Site Sign-In sheet.
❖ AARP Tax-Aide Tax Record Envelopes (D12225 for English version, D17464 for Spanish version) – Envelopes contain required AARP legal statements regarding data retention and responsibility disclaimers. Because of this, the IRS Tax Record envelope is not acceptable.
Local Coordinators should order these site supplies by mid-December to ensure delivery before the sites open. Use the same process through AARP Fulfillment as outlined above in Counselor Materials.
Confidentiality and Security of Taxpayer Data
Whether e-filing or not, protecting the confidentiality and security of taxpayer data has always been a priority focus for this program and you the volunteers. In sharing their sensitive personal data with us, taxpayers have put their trust in us and given us a major responsibility to protect that information. In today’s age of stolen identities, this focus is even more critical and urgent. Leaders must ensure that all volunteers understand these responsibilities and abide by them.
There are many steps we can take to help ensure that we honor that trust and protect taxpayer information. This section is intended to provide you with AARP Tax-Aide required and recommended security controls that will help preserve the confidentiality and privacy of taxpayer data.
1. All volunteers must sign the Standards of Conduct statement (IRS Form 13615), which is provided in the IRS test or as a separate form. That statement has three bullets addressing the protection of taxpayer data:
❖ I will safeguard the confidentiality of taxpayer information.
❖ I will exercise reasonable care in the use and protection of equipment and supplies.
❖ I will not solicit business from taxpayers I assist or use the knowledge I have gained about them for any direct or indirect benefit for me or any other specific individual.
We have taken the step of clearly noting that the certification of a Counselor now has two significant and critical components. First, the Counselor must train and pass the IRS test. Second, all must agree to the Standards of Conduct and note that agreement by signing the statement. We take these statements very seriously and expect that you will as well.
2. Information provided for tax return preparation must not be shared with anyone who does not have a need to know. Individuals have the need to know if their involvement is required to accurately process the information to its final disposition. Examples of “need to know” would include, sharing information for the purpose of obtaining guidance in tax return completion, for electronic transmission, and/or for quality review of the finished tax return. In accordance with 18 USC 1905, which applies to Tax Counseling for the Elderly grantees including
AARP, it is not acceptable to share information with others, even another volunteer, if their involvement in the tax return preparation is not required. For instance, sharing income information, birth dates, or even the marital status of taxpayers with other volunteers, taxpayers, family, or friends as a matter of curiosity or interest is not acceptable.
3. Do not send taxpayer data via regular e-mail. Taxpayer data can only be sent through TaxWise.
4. Forms 8879 with taxpayer’s supporting W2s and 1099 documentation have a three-year retention requirement from the return due date or IRS received date, whichever is later. This information must be sent to the local IRS territory office by the end of April. Forms 8879, W2s, 1099, etc. must not be kept by AARP Tax-Aide volunteers beyond April 30th.
5. For numerous reasons, including taxpayer data security and confidentiality, all returns must be prepared in front of the taxpayer and all records given back to the taxpayer at the end of that assistance session. Required retention of some records for e-filing, such as W-2s and 1099s with federal tax withholding is allowed, but only until April 30th (see #4 above).
6. Appropriate steps to secure taxpayer data must be taken at all times. Any piece of equipment, computer (personally owned or site sponsor owned) and/or any external memory devices, such as a flash drive, on which taxpayer data resides must contain encryption software. Any taxpayer data must be in an encrypted file. This applies to all computers, including personally owned and site-sponsor-owned computers. Slave computers on a server that never have the taxpayer information, or a computer running TaxWise™ from a removable device that is encrypted do not require encryption software. If all taxpayer data is removed by TPClear or an eraser program from a computer or flash drive prior to its leaving the tax site, the equipment no longer requires encryption software since no taxpayer data is present. However, please make sure that you backup all files and data on an encrypted removable storage media prior to running TPClear or an eraser program because all taxpayer files and settings are deleted by these programs. More information on the AARP Tax-Aide encryption software and the TPClear program can be found and on tavolunteers.
7. By April 30th, taxpayer data must be deleted and purged from all computers, personal or loaned, no exception. For IRS loaned computers, use the wipe disk program loaded on the IRS loaned computers. For non-IRS equipment, use TPClear (if not provided by your site leadership it is available for download on tavolunteers).
8. During the season, the operating system of any computer containing taxpayer data must be password-protected. Additionally, for multiple security reasons, the TaxWise™ Admin account must be password-protected. If you have any questions about how to password-protect either, please see a volunteer leader at your site or go to tavolunteers and see the General Security document under Security & Confidentiality for additional
guidance. Please do not share your passwords with non AARP Tax-Aide volunteers. If you must have a written password reminder, keep it away from the computer, carrying case, or anything tax related and in a location that is not visible to others (consider putting it in your wallet or billfold, which is usually always with us and take care to protect). Here are some general guidelines to be followed when setting up a password:
❖ Minimum length – eight (8) characters for Windows, TaxWise Admin account, and TrueCrypt.
❖ At least one letter and one number in the password.
❖ Choose a password that is not a dictionary word or someone’s name.
9. Use the AARP Tax-Aide provided anti-virus and firewall software program to protect all AARP purchased and donated computers and contents from viruses and hackers. This software and license key should only be used on computers that are being used for AARP Tax-Aide business only; use on any other computer is prohibited. Update this software at least weekly. AVG Internet Security Suite 8.0 is the current version used by AARP Tax-Aide. The download link in AVG for our specific version can be found at under products. The license key needed to download the product is available from your supervisor or by emailing Taxaidetech@ for more information.
10. If a volunteer uses a personal computer during the season for tax preparation, AVG or other anti-virus and firewall software must be installed (see #9 above for additional details on AVG downloads and installation). If a volunteer is not using AVG on a personal computer and feels that the anti-virus and firewall software being used is secure and reliable, regular updates must be performed. (At the end season, the volunteer MUST run the TPClear program, to ensure that all taxpayer data has been removed from their computer. The TPClear program can be found in ‘The Technology Management Guide’ and on tavolunteers.
11. If possible, any site that uses two or more computers should consider networking. In a networking environment only one computer contains taxpayers’ data, requires TaxWiseTM updates and needs to be backed up but all connected computers have access to all returns. Only that one computer needs to be extra secured at all times when not being used. Personal computers should not be used as the Master computer, unless it is used only for the AARP Tax-Aide program during the season. Wireless networking of computers is being evaluated but is currently still prohibited by the AARP Tax-Aide program. More networking and configuration information is located on the AARP Tax-Aide extranet tavolunteers.
12. Taxpayer data must not be stored on site owned computers. It is advisable to use TaxWise™ Online when using site owned computers. If that is not possible as the site owned computers so not have high speed internet connections, run TaxWiseTM from an encrypted external drive (such as a flash drive). Information on how to encrypt removable storage media is located on tavolunteers in the Security and Confidentiality section.
13. States allowing the retention of e-file data for use the following season must allow the taxpayer to opt out of retention. If the taxpayer agrees to allow retention, his or her signature on the Authorization form is required. Only one person per state, determined by the SC, is allowed to retain the data. If you participate in the Data Retention program you must still delete the data from your computer at the end of the season. You must not retain your own copy of the data. It is to be backed up to a disk, flash drive, etc. AND transferred in the off season to the one person assigned the responsibility of maintaining that data in your state. The data should not be uploaded on computers any earlier than January, preferably late January. More information on the Data Retention can be found in the “The Technology Management Guide” and on the AARP Tax-Aide extranet at tavolunteers.
14. Securely remove all taxpayer information from hard drives before disposal of computers. TPClear or an Eraser program will remove the data. CAUTION: The current version of TPClear may not work properly on computers that have VISTA installed as the operating system. See more information on ‘Unusable Equipment Disposition’ in the “Technology Management Guide” at tavolunteers.
15. Volunteers should act in a manner that promotes confidentiality for the taxpayer. This includes how they communicate questions and issues during their sessions with taxpayers. Conversations should be held discretely; personal taxpayer information should not be left out in areas to which others may gain access, and computer screen displays should be minimized or the application closed down if a Counselor needs to leave the work area during an individual tax assistance session. If you believe that the confidentiality of taxpayer data has been compromised due to any of these types of issues:
❖ Call 1-800-424-2277, ext 36021 or ext 36027 (during business hours), or 1-202-434-6021/6027 (after hours) immediately (within 24 hours).
❖ Inform your volunteer supervisor about the situation.
1. Sites must not be located in individual volunteers’ homes, nor should volunteers prepare returns for friends or others at their or their friends’ homes. Refer to the section on Site Selection for more guidance regarding sites and maintaining confidentiality.
2. Store computer equipment in a secure/locked location at a site, if left at a site. If you take the computers home, store them inside your home in a secure and safe place.
3. Any computers on which taxpayer data is stored, and that are left at sites must be stored and secured in the area at the site that is least accessible to non-volunteers. Computer cable locks are available through the National Office for Master computers that are left at sites where additional secured locked closets or cabinets are not available. If at all in doubt about the security of a master computer to be stored at a site, consider other options such as a volunteer taking it home to their residence where they know it will be secure with no inappropriate
access. Computer cable locks can also be used to secure Master computers during site hours, where it is physically possible to use the cable lock. E-mail taxaidetech@aarp if you would like to request a cable lock.
4. Do not store computers in your car or leave computers unattended in a visible area of a car.
5. Before leaving your computer for a break, turning off your computer, or closing the lid on a laptop when working with taxpayer’s data, you must exit TaxWiseTM (this applies to IRS, AARP Tax-Aide, and personal computers) and close the encryption software (AARP Tax-Aide computers). Closing the lid on a laptop may only put the computer in a state of "standby" or "hibernation", which means TaxWiseTM is still open and the data is vulnerable.
6. Sites should be set up in a manner that minimizes the likelihood that taxpayer data can be overheard, or seen on a computer screen or as a hard copy document by other customers.
7. Paper forms (W2s, 1099, 8879s, etc.) are very vulnerable for theft due to exposed social security numbers and other taxpayer data which is unable to be encrypted. Forms 8879 must be mailed only from locked and secure mailboxes. All forms and reports with taxpayer data must be safeguarded from being lost or stolen, particularly at sites. They should be stored in envelopes and folders out of view during site hours, and when the site is closed care should be taken to make sure they are locked away and secured.
Reporting a Loss
This covers computers, removable storage media (flash drive, floppy disk, CD,) and paper lost, stolen, or damaged with taxpayer data residing on it.
Computers, removable storage media (external drive (such as a flash drive), floppy disk, CD,) and paper used for tax preparation such as Form 8879, backups and data storage contain information that is private to the taxpayers involved. Should these be lost or stolen with taxpayer data, it may be possible for others not only to obtain access to private financial information but to use the data to illegally access bank accounts, credit cards, etc. Quick intervention is extremely important to minimize problems for the taxpayer.
❖ 1-800-424-2277, ext 36021 or ext 36027 (during business hours), or 1-202-434-6021/6027 (after hours), must be called immediately (within 24 hours) if ANY computer containing taxpayer data is lost or stolen.
❖ If the loss is the result of theft, call the local police to report the theft as soon as you realize what has happened.
❖ Inform your volunteer supervisor about the situation.
Computers lost, stolen, or damaged without taxpayer data residing on it:
Even with reasonable care and security, AARP or IRS equipment may be stolen or lost in fire, flood, or other natural disasters. Should a loss of AARP or IRS equipment occur, the state’s TCS must be notified. Please tell your supervisor so he or she can get the information to the TCS. If your supervisor is unavailable, call 1-800-424-2277 ext 36021 or 36027 (during business hours), or 1-202-434-6021/6027 (after hours), and AARP Tax-Aide staff will make sure the appropriate notification is made.
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6. Electronic Filing (e-filing) of Tax Returns
The Technology Management Guide
The policy statements within the AARP Tax-Aide Policy Manual supersede those of the Technology Management Guide. Where the policies or suggested procedures in The Technology Management Guide differ from those in IRS Publication 3189, those in the Technology Management Guide must be used. (An important example is that, although the IRS will allow partners to hold the data, AARP Tax-Aide requires that all supporting e-filing documentation is sent to the Territory Office.)
Software for the Preparation of Tax Returns and Electronic Filing
❖ The IRS provides AARP Tax-Aide with tax preparation software at no cost. This software is provided for electronic filing only and must not be used to prepare paper returns (except for those returns that do not qualify for electronic filing).
❖ Because of the high cost of the software to the IRS, the IRS limits the number of software packages to one for each AARP Tax-Aide site that e-files a sufficient number of returns and has a valid EFIN. The Technology Coordinator or another appropriate district level Volunteer must request, via the Technology Specialist, tax preparation software packages for all electronic filing sites within their district. The IRS requires that every software order/EFIN has a unique SIDN. (Note that the Technology Specialist has the ability to impact the activity reporting process by the manner in which he/she orders this software. Refer to the section on Activity Reporting for more information.) At sites with multiple e-filers, everyone at the site uses the one software program. The software license allows the software to be installed on all tax-preparing computers at the locations that prepare e-file returns using that EFIN, as well as the one transmitting computer even if it is located at an AARP Tax-Aide volunteer’s home.
❖ During the tax season, the operating system of any computer with taxpayer data must be password protected. Additionally, the Tax-Wise™ program and files must be password protected and encrypted. If you have any questions about password protection or encryption, see a volunteer leader at your site or go to tavolunteers for guidance.
❖ Effective this season, the AARP Tax-Aide NLT prohibited AARP Tax-Aide volunteers from using any other software but the IRS provided for the purpose of tax preparation while serving at an AARP Tax-Aide site or acting as an AARP Tax-Aide volunteer off-site. This requirement includes e-filing and the use of unlicensed software to help increase accuracy.
❖ Those sites that use non-IRS supplied software (individual or single use applications of Turbo-Tax, TaxCut, etc.) will be subject to having that site shut down and all IRS and AARP equipment at site returned to the program for redistribution.
Beginning with the 2008 filing season, volunteers can e-file individual income tax returns only if the returns are signed electronically using the Practitioner PIN process. When using the Practitioner PIN program, the clients must sign a Form 8879. IRS SPEC will retain this Form 8879 and the required 1099’s and W’2s with federal tax withholding for volunteers. Volunteers must not retain Form 8879 for the three year retention period. When the return is accepted, or no later than April 30th, mail ALL the 8879 and supporting 1099 and W-2 type forms to the IRS SPEC Territory Office for retention. Many states send these forms to the local SPEC office intermittently through the season, for reasons such as both volume of forms and security and only have to forward on the last batch at the end of April.
Taxpayer Data Deletion
Taxpayer data must be deleted AND PURGED from ALL computers (IRS, AARP Foundation, site supplied, or personally owned), flash drives, and diskettes. There are separate IRS procedures for deletion which are included with the computer when it is shipped from the IRS Depot.
The best way to remove all the data, including bits and pieces that are tucked into non-UTS files, is by using TPClear. The latest version of the TPClear program for data deletion is available on the AARP Tax-Aide Extranet (). Please read the instructions before downloading. Confirm to your District Coordinator that all taxpayer data has been deleted. The data should all be deleted and purged by April 30th of the current year. Deleting alone is not sufficient – information must be deleted and purged to ensure confidentiality.
Taxpayer Data Retention
As stated above, taxpayer data must be deleted and purged at the end of the tax season. However, taxpayer data can be held for the following season by one person in the state (designated by the State Coordinator and Technology Specialist). Data must be encrypted and stored in a locked media storage box and only if the taxpayer(s) specifically authorizes the retention by signing the Data Retention Authorization on the AARP Tax-Aide Intake Sheet. This single individual must be identified to the National Office.
Any taxpayer data retained must be properly disposed of (deleted and purged) once it is no longer needed (no later than April 30 of the following year).
To minimize exposure of individual taxpayer data to theft, when taxpayer data is submitted to the one person per state to hold, that data can only be given back to the individual location that originally submitted it for storage in the first place. It can not be shared with any other location for any reason.
7. Equipment Management & Ordering
Resource Forecast for next season
In June the SMT will be asked to estimate the number of computers and printers required to maintain service to their state area at the current level, and to expand service to additional taxpayers or convert current paper sites to e-filing. This estimate needs to include all working computers, purchased and donated, in the state inventory. It does not have to include personal computers or printers placed in service by volunteers or site-furnished equipment.
In late June, the RC will receive the allocation of IRS depot computers to their region and will allocate these computers to each state accommodating requests as best as possible. If money is furnished by the AARP Foundation for equipment purchases, the RC will allocate funds to each state for purchase of additional computers, printers, and projectors.
Ordering IRS Depot Equipment
In late June or early July, the National Office will inform the RC, SC, and TCS of the schedule for ordering IRS depot computers for monthly shipment from August to January. The SC/TCS must develop a preferred schedule for shipment of IRS depot computers. A standard format spreadsheet will be forwarded by the National Office. Each month’s order must be detailed on the spreadsheet and submitted to the RC for approval and forwarding to National Office. IRS equipment deliveries will be scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis, however it deals with fulfillment capacity issues that required shipment processing to be spread out over time. Additionally, the IRS maintains distribution “quotas” to ensure that equipment is distributed to volunteer programs in an equitable manner throughout the ordering season. As a result, even though a request is submitted early in the season, the actual shipment may not be completed until later in the year, despite the general first-come, first-served basis.
Ordering Purchased Equipment
National Office will provide a standard format spreadsheet for ordering purchased equipment. It may also furnish a price list and desired schedule for purchasing equipment with allocated funds. The SC/TCS must determine how many computers, printers, and projectors they wish to order to use the funds allocated to them and the list of volunteers to receive each item of equipment. This equipment order must be submitted to the RC for approval who forwards it to National Office by the deadline specified.
Custody of Received Equipment
The TCS is responsible for maintaining a current written inventory of every item of purchased, donated, and IRS equipment (computers, printers, projectors) and the person and contact information responsible for its custody. Each volunteer who transfers custody to another volunteer is responsible for informing the TCS of the transfer of custody. The receiving volunteer is responsible for certifying to the SC/TCS that he/she received the equipment and the accuracy of his/her contact information and the new location of the equipment.
Purchasing Equipment with Donated Funds
Donated funds can be used to purchase computer equipment. If a state/split-state receives a monetary donation, and they wish to purchase computer equipment with these funds, consideration should be given to the type of equipment purchased. Please see the Technology Management Guide, available on the extranet, for more information.
Certain consumables, specific print cartridges and projector bulbs, must be obtained directly from a national vendor without out-of-pocket expense. AARP Tax-Aide is billed directly for these cartridges and bulbs. Each state has one representative and a back-up that may order directly from the vendor. Refer to the Technology Management Guide, available on the extranet for a detailed list of the consumables available. Contact your State Coordinator or Technology Specialist to determine which volunteer places orders within your state. Cartridges not on the list can be reimbursable expenses. Refer to the section on Reimbursement for additional information.
8. Program Communications and Chain of Command
Communication is the strength of the AARP Tax-Aide program. Many formats are used, including meetings, reports, conference calls, individual calls, letters, memos, the AARP Tax-Aide newsletter, email, Volunteer Extranet, and visits. The purpose is to ensure effective dissemination of information, monitoring of operations, and evaluation of performance and activities.
The AARP Tax-Aide program maintains a web based Extranet page that volunteers can access at tavolunteers. Items that are posted here are made available as references to the volunteers and required links to WEB enabled systems. Examples of what is posted here include, but are not limited to:
❖ Program policies and manuals and updates to these policies and manuals when they become available
❖ Recent announcements
❖ Training presentations
❖ Links to WEB enabled systems such as Activity Reporting and Site Information Updating
❖ Volunteer job descriptions
❖ Sample forms and reports
❖ Key schedule of events and program deliverables
Chain of Command
It is important that the chain of command be utilized in communications, particularly to the National Office. Policy and procedure questions should be directed to the supervising volunteer Coordinator. Directions and policies flow down through the chain of command, National Office information requests flow up to the National Office and communications flow in all directions. Each level in the program helps the next higher and lower management levels stay on message.
Complaints about the IRS or AARP Tax-Aide operations should also be directed to the volunteer’s supervisor, with a request that it be referred up the line, in order for everyone in the chain of command to be informed. If the complaint is about the volunteer supervisor, it should be directed to that person’s volunteer supervisor.
Regional and State Coordinators are expected to develop communication systems to share information with District and Local Coordinators, Instructors, and Counselors. The AARP Tax-Aide National Office also communicates with Coordinators and Instructors on current program developments and administrative procedures through memorandums, Cybertax, Tech Bulletins, the AARP Tax-Aide newsletter (Happenings), the Coordinators’ Guides and Digests, Instructor’s and Administration packets, and other program materials. Courtesy copies to the National Office of local email exchanges are usually unnecessary. Most Happenings issues are sent to all
volunteers. Cybertax is posted on the volunteer extranet and sent to all volunteers who have requested to be set up to receive it . Conference calls, an important tool of communication, may be arranged utilizing procedures shown later in this manual. Refer to Chapter 6 on Meetings, section C. Procedure for Meetings and Conference Calls (Step-by-Step Process) for direction on how to set up a conference call.
9. Donations to AARP Tax-Aide
Grants & Partnerships
Grant applications or solicitation of funds over $5000 must be reviewed by the AARP Tax-Aide National office.
The AARP Foundation accepts donations of equipment and supplies as well as monetary donations on behalf of AARP Tax-Aide. The AARP Foundation is a non-profit charitable 501(c)(3) organization, and donations are generally tax deductible. The AARP Foundation’s federal tax ID# is 52-0794300. An Acknowledgement of Donated Equipment and Supplies form can be found on the extranet along with the IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter.
Soliciting donations for equipment is a vital and necessary component to the automation of AARP Tax-Aide, especially in the electronic filing arena. However, legal and financial constraints require acceptance to be conditional as specified below:
|What may & may not be |On behalf of the AARP Foundation, AARP Tax-Aide volunteers may: |
|done |accept solicited or unsolicited donations of appropriate equipment and supplies from businesses and agencies. |
| |not use any mass methods (e.g., direct mail) to solicit donations. |
|The processes that must |AARP Tax-Aide volunteers soliciting or accepting equipment donations should: |
|be followed |verify that other AARP volunteers or staffs have not already approached a possible donor. |
| |use a standard acknowledgment form that has been developed to record and receipt donations. |
| |record all requested information, as known, on the acknowledgment form. |
| |retain a copy of the signed form. |
| |send a copy of the signed form to the AARP Tax-Aide National Office. |
| |ensure that the equipment appears on the state equipment inventory as “donated”. |
| | |
| |Donors should: |
| |estimate the value of the donation. |
| |retain the original, signed acknowledgment form. |
| | |
| | |
|Conditions that must be |Financial constraints of AARP Tax-Aide require the understanding that: |
|understood |all installation and maintenance issues must be handled locally. |
| |all maintenance and repair needs, as well as operating supplies, must be met as economically as feasible, |
| |including by local donation where possible. |
| |non-functioning equipment (or technically obsolete equipment) must be disposed of only after advanced approval by |
| |the state TCS and/or SC. |
| |All non-functioning laptop computers (or technically obsolete laptop computers) that were on the previous year |
| |inventory may be replaced by the National Office. This is not a guaranteed replacement policy but all efforts |
| |will be made to replace the equipment. |
| |off-season storage of equipment and supplies must be arranged locally. In the rare cases where paid storage is the|
| |only viable option, RC and National Office approval and coordination is required. |
| |no software, other than anti-virus software, or technical support can be provided by AARP or the AARP Foundation. |
| |no additional financial support can be provided by AARP or the AARP Foundation. |
Local Grants and Partnerships
Volunteers should not sign any local donations or grant agreements, but should rather work with the National Office Assistant National Director (AND) staff through their Regional Coordinator on such agreements.
Partnering with other organizations in a coalition or similar endeavor can require a sizable investment of volunteer effort and time. It is therefore recommended that AARP Tax-Aide leaders consider the potential for positive outcomes when deciding whether to join the effort. The AARP Tax-Aide program should benefit in some way such as getting new volunteers, getting the counts for the taxpayers helped, receiving computers or other tangible resources and/or have the inclination and time for networking to possibly acquire other needed program resources. AARP Tax-Aide is not to provide training only.
Partnerships that are beyond the “local category” should be discussed with the RC and AND in the National Office.
ANDs at the National Office will develop and oversee partnerships, especially those at the national level with external partners such as governments, non-profits, corporations, etc. to help ensure sufficient resources for the program.
Local Sponsorships: New In 2008-2009 Grant Year
Pending AARP General Council review a new initiative will be available to states who would like to build their donated funds account and increase the amount they can spend on the purchase of equipment, materials and volunteer support. This new initiative, founded on extensive research and program development by the National Office, will be focused on obtaining local sponsorships from businesses and individuals in the local community. In year one, the initiative will be a pilot opened to states with a PCS volunteer. The initiative description will be completed and rolled out this fall (2008), but is not yet finalized as of this writing.
Individual states may receive monetary donations from individuals (including AARP Tax-Aide volunteers), companies or organizations. When these donations are received at the state/split state level, the donation must be made out to the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide and designated “For the benefit of AARP Tax-Aide, (appropriate state/split state)”. Donations given this way will be credited to a Designated Funds account for the state by the National Office. The State Coordinator must approve all expenditures from this account.
Any checks from third parties should be mailed by the third party directly to the National Office at the address listed below, rather than being collected by the volunteer(s). If any checks are randomly received by third parties by volunteers for the AARP Tax-Aide program they should be forwarded to the National Office in a timely manner.
Monetary donations must never be solicited at sites. If any site sponsor or organizations solicit contributions/donations, it must not even appear to be linked to the AARP Tax-Aide service.
If any donations checks are received, they should be sent to the National Office as soon as they are received so that the check can be deposited and the donor recognized in a timely manner. Specifically, these checks should be mailed to National Office as follows:
AARP Tax-Aide Program
601 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20049
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10. Ordering Program Materials
Automatic Shipments (based on the September Leadership Roster)
Administrative/publicity/Instruction materials are assembled into Administrative/Instructor Packets and are shipped automatically in the early fall to Coordinators and Instructors listed within VMIS at that time. Because the AARP Tax-Aide material requirements will be detailed in these packets, leaders should not place any orders with AARP Fulfillment until after receiving this Administrative/Instructor Packet. Recruitment materials are ready and can be ordered early summer.
IRS Training Materials
New process in 2009. The IRS has a new process for ordering materials. If you are the person who will be placing orders for the TCE training materials, an electronic order form will be sent you via email through the CAPS system on September 2nd. If you do not receive an email, please proceed how you ordered materials in the past. Contact your IRS Territory Office and submit your 2333V form to them to order materials until December 15th. The only restrictions are that P.O. boxes cannot be used; and, if multiple copies are needed they must be ordered in multiples of five. If no quantity is specified, one set of materials will be ordered. Everyone on the list will automatically be shipped a Pub 17 in the same quantity as the number of training manuals requested. The Pub 17 will come separately late in the year or even January.
Tax Preparation Software Ordering (starts in September)
❖ The software ordering process begins in September and continues into January. However, before an order can be placed into the IRS system it must have an EFIN, the correct SIDN associated with the site that will be using the software, and be designated in the AARP database as an e-file site. The e-file designation can be entered by the ADS into the AARP national database or by the DC or LC using the new WEB enabled Site Information System (scheduled to be turned on in November). Once entered into the AARP National Database, it will feed to the IRS-STARS system twice a week. The IRS Territory Office cannot do this for you. All software orders must be placed with the IRS Territory Office. The Technology Specialist or designee is responsible for providing the ordering information needed by the Territory Office in a timely manner. Software orders are filled on a first-come, first-served basis and can be accepted through the end of January. Acknowledgement of each order is sent via email to the contact identified in the original order and shipment usually begins in early December.
❖ The Technology Specialist or their designee ordering the software should be aware, when placing the order, to reference the correct SIDN, due to its impact on Activity Reporting. Software that is not accurately assigned to an SIDN will result in e-file counts being initially mis-applied in the activity reporting system and will require ADS intervention to resolve.
❖ If one EFIN will be used to transmit returns for several other EFIN’s, for example, a District computer handling several Local sites, then a transmit code must be requested for that EFIN when placing the order. This will minimize the accidental impact the on the activity reporting system.
❖ Software orders will be stopped by the IRS system if the EFIN had less than 35 accepted returns last season. A statement of justification for reordering software for these minimal production sites (1-34 accepted returns) must be sent from the State Coordinator to the Regional Coordinator. Both must endorse that justification before it can be submitted by the Regional Coordinator to the National Office. The National Office will send it to the IRS in Atlanta for consideration. If approved by the SPEC headquarters of the IRS, the order will be accepted by the Territory Office for processing. If the site had zero accepted returns, the EFIN has been blocked and no order can be placed regardless of justification.
Counselor Tax-Aide Materials (order by November or early December)
❖ All Counselor supplies, e.g. name badges and Counselor Digests, must be estimated and ordered by Coordinators in advance of the training classes.
❖ Order from AARP Fulfillment using the AARP Order Form. This order form is available electronically on the volunteer extranet and in paper form. If you use the electronic version, you can FAX it to 703-541-5921 or 703-541-5922 or email it to fulfillment@. If you use the paper version, you can FAX it to the numbers listed above, or mail it in the cherry envelope. Items marked BO, for Back Ordered, or DF for Deferred Shipment should not be reordered. Telephone orders cannot be accepted. Please note that some items are only available in electronic format and are indicated as such on the form.
❖ Supplies are predicated on normal usage. Please order only what is needed and do not attempt to stockpile. Do not over order. UPS is used for many shipments so P.O. boxes make it difficult for delivery. If a street address is not feasible, provide a phone number for UPS to use to arrange delivery.
Tax-Aide Site Materials (order by November or mid-December)
Two types of materials are needed for sites to open in February – AARP Tax Aide materials ordered from AARP and IRS materials ordered from the IRS. Make sure you know which is which when there are similar products. For required AARP Tax-Aide materials refer to Chapter 5 AARP Tax-Aide Sites, section H. Site Materials.
IRS Site Materials
For paper returns, site materials should include the overprinted 1040 series forms to ensure that the paper returns are properly credited to AARP Tax-Aide.
New in 2008: The IRS will email the Form 2333V directly the volunteer either the District and/or Local Coordinators which is revised every year. The current version of the form will be email from the IRS Territory Office. Follow the instructions of the Form which will be in a PDF format which will include the date needed and last date accepted. The PDF will be saved to your computer and you will be prompted to send it as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org.. You will be sent an acknowledgment e-mail stating your order has been received. You will receive e-mail notifications each time a product is shipped by the IRS National Distribution Center. Your order will be reviewed and approved by your IRS Relationship Manager. If you order IRS materials through another AARP Tax-Aide volunteer or and IRS SPEC employee, continue your process as you would normally do to receive materials.
Allow one month for the IRS warehouse to make the delivery. Again, P.O boxes cannot be used for these shipments from the IRS.
11. Tax-Aide Master Schedule of Events and Deliverables
(Shows month and title of responsible party)
|January | Responsibility |
|Counselor training, testing, grading and certifications to TRS |INS |
|Local site coordinator assignment to ADS for entry into VMIS to provide current site information to the public and |DC/LC/ADS |
|promote first period of activity reporting using Statistics Reporting web site. | |
|Forward list of certified counselors to IRS, ADS, and Coordinators |TRS |
|Local site program publicity to the DCs and SCs |LC |
|Some sites open in late January |LC |
|Development and distribution of annual Happenings Newsletter to volunteers |Nat’l |
|Update All-Volunteer Roster as required to ADS for entry into VMIS |ADS/DC/LC |
|February | |
|Most sites open |LC |
|Final update of site information in VMIS to provide current site information to the public and promote second |LC/DC/ADS |
|period of activity reporting using Statistics Reporting web site. | |
|Update All-Volunteer Rosters to ADS for entry into VMIS |ADS/DC/LC |
|Update to Counselor training and certification to ADS |TRS |
|Provide Counselor Certification list to the IRS by 3rd business day in February |TRS/ADS |
|March | |
|Sites continue operation until end of tax season |LC |
|Adjustment, as needed, site information in VMIS to enable third period of activity reporting using Statistics |LC/DC/ADS |
|Reporting web site. | |
|Submit Activity Statistics Reports using Statistics Reporting web site |LC/DC/ADS |
|Local site program publicity |DC/LC |
|Leaders submit reimbursement requests for outstanding non-I expenses incurred to date |Leaders |
|Distribution of CFR to Supervising Coordinators |Nat’l |
|April | |
|Sites continue operation until end of season |LC |
|Submit Activity Statistics Reports using Statistics Reporting web site |LC/DC/ADS |
|Counseling and Client Facilitation expense statements processing begins |ALL |
|End-of-season written program assessment to SCs |ALL |
|Approved flat rate forms to the National Office Sr. Field Support Technicians |ALL |
|May | |
|State evaluation and assessment submitted to RC |SC |
|Counseling and Client Facilitation expense statements processing continues |ALL |
|Review, analysis of personnel & activity reports |Nat’l/RC |
|Performance reviews (recommended that leaders conduct reviews of volunteers) |RC/SC |
|Analysis of error reports from IRS |SC/TRS |
|Wrap up season |SMT |
|Hardware Inventory due May 15 |TCS |
|(Re)appointment process for RCs, SCs and Specialist positions as needed and based on terms. |Nat’l/RC/SC |
|Submit Activity Statistics Reports using Statistics Reporting web site as needed |LC/DC/ADS |
|Call AARP State Office ASD to get fall recruitment through Magazine inkjets |PCS |
|NLT meeting |NLT |
|June | |
|Hardware Allocation to SC and RC |TCS/SC |
|Leaders submit reimbursement requests for outstanding non-I expenses incurred to date |Leaders |
|Expense statements processing continues |Nat’l |
|July | |
|Hardware allocated to states |RCs |
|Shipping hardware orders and shipping dates to National |RCs |
|Training for new SCs and SMT Specialists |Ldrshp Dev |
|August | |
|Planning for upcoming season |SMT |
|Analysis of program needs |SMT |
|Recruiting (especially leaders) |ALL |
|Contact communications ASD in AARP State Office for add’l recruitment publicity |PCS |
|Appointments of Coordinators, Instructors |RC/SC |
|Distribution previous year’s Leadership and Site Rosters to SC, DCs, and LCs |ADS |
|Updating of Site Lists for E-filing status & SIDN |ADS/DC/LC |
|Receipt and distribution of Leadership and Site lists |ADS, DCs, LCs |
|Update previous year’s site lists and coordinating supervisors |ADS/DC/LC |
|Start updating VMIS All Volunteer List and Site List |ADS/DC/LC |
|NLT meeting |NLT |
|Consumable ordering primary and secondary identified |SC/TCS |
|September | |
|Recruiting continues |ALL |
|SMT planning meeting or conference call |SMT |
|Updating leadership rosters and site information |ADS/DC/LC |
|Recruiting publicity campaign, at national, state and local levels |Nat’l/PCS/CC & DC/LC |
|Submit final outstanding expenses (fiscal year ends 9/30) |ALL |
|Develop training plan |TRS |
|Submit Final Activity Statistics Reports using Statistics Reporting web site as needed |ADS |
|Order Tax-Wise Software |TCS |
|October | |
|Review and analysis of expense report |Nat’l/ RC/SC |
|Recruiting continued |ALL |
|Contact previous Counselors to confirm interest for next year |LC/DC |
|Regional planning meeting with State Coordinators |RC |
|State planning meetings with District Coordinators |SC |
|Submit new grant year leadership expenses (ongoing through fiscal year) |Vol Ldrs |
|Distribute guides, manuals, confirmation letters, labels, & Instructor/Administrative packets |Nat’l |
|Planning Instructor requirements, Instructor workshops |TRS/ADS |
|Ordering AARP Tax-Aide & IRS training materials |TRS |
|Finalize instructor workshops with the IRS |TRS |
|November | |
|Update VMIS Site List |ADS/DC/LC |
|Send Instructors invitation letter & confirm attendance |TRS |
|Establish criteria for evaluating Instructors |TRS |
|Planning Counselor training |INS/DC/LC |
|Notification of class dates to Counselors |LC/DC |
|Ordering site/counselor materials |LC |
|Plan local site publicity |LC/PCS |
|Contact communications ASD in AARP State Office for add’l site promotion, including program promotion during the |PCS |
|season through Magazine inkjets | |
|December | |
|Instructor Workshops |TRS |
|Update VMIS All Volunteer List |ADS, DCs, LCs |
|Distribution of All Volunteer Roster by National Office to ADS: ADS to Coordinators | |
|Final arrangements for Counselor training |Nat’l/ADS |
|Instructor assignment for Counselor training |INS/LC/DC |
|Counselor training (INS taxes/LC and DC policy) |TRS/DC |
|Updating of All-Volunteer Roster (adding, inactivating COUs/CFs etc.) |INS/LC/DC/ADS |
A. List of Current* Reports
|Title |Where Available/Who Produces |Short Description |Action Required |By When |
|Initial Update of Site Lists |VMIS report can be run by ADS, NLT, SC, |Shows all active sites within a state\split-state and |ADS reviews and coordinated with their SMT to |August |
|SIDN & E-Filing |and Nat’l Office |illustrates the SIDN and E-filing status. |verify site listings | |
|Leadership Roster |VMIS report can be run by ADS, NLT, SC, |List of leaders, sorted by order of their position, |DC, SC updates via ADS. All data is sent to ADS|mid-August |
| |and Nat’l Office |for a state/split state showing their titles, their |for input into VMIS. | |
| | |contact information, and their supervisor (ID # and | | |
| | |last name). | | |
|Revised Leadership Roster |VMIS report can be run by ADS, NLT, SC, |Same as the leadership roster, but with updated |ADS verifies & distributes |mid-September |
| |and Nat’l Office |information | | |
|All-Volunteer Roster |VMIS report can be run by ADS, NLT, SC, |List of leaders and non-leaders and shows, sorted by |All Coordinators update via ADS. All data is |beginning of December |
| |and Nat’l Office |position within a state\split state their titles, |sent to ADS for input into VMIS. | |
| | |their contact information, and their supervisor (ID # | | |
| | |and last name). | | |
|Revised All-Volunteer Roster |VMIS report can be run by ADS, NLT, SC, |Same as the all-volunteer roster, but with updated |ADS verifies & distributes |mid-March |
| |and Nat’l Office |information | | |
|Site lists |VMIS report can be run by ADS, NLT, SC, |Shows all active sites within a state\split-state and |DC, SC, and LC updates via ADS. All data is |beginning of November |
| |and Nat’l Office |includes all the contact information for that site, |sent to ADS for input into VMIS. | |
| | |including LC/DC, schedule, and address, etc. | | |
| |A link to the WEB enabled system will be | |A new WEB enabled system is scheduled to be | |
| |made available on the volunteer extranet. | |completed Fall 2008 that will permit DC and LC | |
| | | |to view and update selected field in currently | |
| | | |active and assigned sites. All new sites, site | |
| | | |LC/DC assignments, and requests to inactive | |
| | | |sites must still go through the ADS. | |
|Title |Where Available/Who Produces |Short Description |Action Required |By When |
|Activities Reports |VMIS report can be run by ADS, NLT, SC, |Multiple report versions that summarize activity at |RC, SC, ADS, and National Office analyze |Submission of activity counts is |
| |and Nat’l Office |different levels (region, state/split-state, DC, LC, | |due monthly during the tax season |
| | |or site level) of number of taxpayers served | |using the Statistics Reporting WEB |
| | | | |enabled system (link will be made |
| | | | |available on the volunteer |
| | | | |extranet) |
| | | | | |
| | | | |Reports are available upon demand |
| | | | |within VMIS. |
|Personnel Report |VMIS report can be run by ADS, NLT, SC, |Count of total volunteers by region and |RC, SC, ADS and National Office analyze |May |
| |and Nat’l Office |state/split-state. Leaders are counted by their | | |
| | |highest position (if a leader). Additional | | |
| | |segmentation and comparisons are also provided. | | |
|Expenses Report |Driven from AARP Accounting system and is |Summary Financial comparison by region and |RC and SC reviews w/DCs & other Leaders as |October (minimally) but may be |
| |produced by Nat’l Office |state/split-state of the volunteer initiated program |necessary |produced (quarterly) |
| | |costs based on the IRS grant cycle. Summary by type | | |
| | |of activity, position are shown. Selected additional | | |
| | |costs segmentation are provided. | | |
|Equipment Inventory Report |Volunteers produce in the field using |Spreadsheet containing all hardware in a state and |Technology Specialist with State Coordinator |May 15th |
| |format outlined by National Office |that hardware’s custodian |developed and submits to the National Office | |
|Instructors Report |Volunteers produce in the field |An Instructor Evaluation Form is provided in the |Lead Instructor produces report and submits it |10 days after class |
| | |Training Guide for the Instructor Workshops |to the TRS | |
|Title |Where Available/Who Produces |Short Description |Action Required |By When |
|Training Evaluations |Volunteers produce in the field |A Counselor Evaluation Form is provided in the |Counselors complete evaluations and submit them |After training |
| | |Training Guide for the Counselor Trainings. |to the SC, TRS who then review the results for | |
| | | |use in future training efforts. | |
|Volunteer Assessment of |Volunteers produce in the field |Feedback and assessment used to manage the program at |Review and react as appropriate |Multiple dates: |
|Program | |the local, state, regional, and national levels. | |4/1, 4/15, 4/30, 5/15, 5/31 |
| | |Assessments are optional for Counselors and | | |
| | |Instructors and are required for Local Coordinators, | | |
| | |District Coordinators, State Coordinators, and | | |
| | |Regional Coordinators | | |
|Counselor Flat-Rate |VMIS report that can only be run by Nat’l |Form showing all active non-leaders and Site |Distributed by National Office to Coordinator |mid-March |
|Reimbursement Form |Office |Coordinators sorted by supervisor within a |Supervisor | |
| | |state/split-state. Includes section for address | | |
| | |updating and signature area if they opt for receiving | | |
| | |a flat rate reimbursement. | | |
| | | |Counselors and Coordinators sign and return to |Mid-April |
| | | |National Office | |
|In addition, mailing labels |VMIS report that can only be run by Nat’l |Mailing labels that have name, title, assignment |Coordinators use for expense statements |as required |
|are available |Office |codes, volunteer ID number and current mailing address| | |
*Additional reporting is being considered as the defined needs are identified, and the report capabilities designed and implemented. Once implemented, this listing will be updated as necessary
To verify VMIS, a Leadership Roster is offered to each Administrative Specialist in August.
For those Administrative Specialists that have access to the VMIS, they should update the database with changes (address and e-mail updates, addition of new volunteers and remove/inactivation of volunteers no longer with the program). The ADS should receive supporting documentation to adjust leadership information within VMIS.
This supporting documentation could be any written correspondence, including email, provided it has clearly identified the volunteer and has outlined the specifics to be updated (contact information, start dates and assignments, supervisor, etc).
Refer to the administrative manual for more specifics about appropriate supporting documentation.
For those Administrative Specialists who do not have access to VMIS, they should use the roster sent to them to mark up any changes they need made. This roster, along with the supporting documentation on the change, should be submitted to the National Office by the deadline specified. National Office staff will then enter in the necessary changes VMIS. Supporting documentation should include: a Personnel Form or an email showing the same information.
All Volunteer Rosters
In December the National Office offers the Administrative Specialists copies of the All Volunteer Roster containing current Leaders and the prior year’s Counselors. This roster lists Counselors by their supervising Coordinator. The rosters can be distributed to the appropriate Local Coordinator by the ADS to correct and return to the Administrative Specialist. Coordinators must positively hear from Instructors that a Counselor has been certified before allowing the Counselor to assist taxpayers. VMIS must accurately identify each volunteer’s status, especially for the counselors. A Counselor must not be entered or re-appointed in VMIS by the ADS until he/she has been officially certified.
For each new volunteer, supporting documentation should be given to the ADS in order for them to input the person into VMIS. This supporting documentation could be any written correspondence, including email, provided it has complete contact information, start date, state/split-state assignment, volunteer supervisor, and level of certification, (if they are to be a Counselor).
Coordinators should retain copies of the corrected rosters. Follow the distribution procedures stated on the personnel form.
The Leadership Roster and All Volunteer Roster refresh process updates information stored in VMIS. The information stored in VMIS is used to generate the Counselor Flat Rate forms, is verified when processing any volunteer reimbursement request (note that the address listed on the reimbursement request needs to be the same address listed within VMIS to have a reimbursement issued unless a direct deposit form is on file with the AARP accounting office), and is a source of various mailings (such as the Happenings Newsletter, and automatic mailings of manuals and packets), and is the data used to identify the years of service with AARP Tax-Aide. A revised All Volunteer Roster is offered to the Administrative Specialists in March or April to confirm that the volunteer’s records were updated. Administrative Specialists should send a copy to each District Coordinator and/or Local Coordinator covering his/her sub-district.
Changes after Roster Submission
Changes in volunteer personnel, which occur any time after rosters have been revised, should be made by District Coordinators or Local Coordinators and notify the Administrative Specialist, who should update VMIS and retain a copy of the supporting documentation for their records. Such notification can be done using the personnel form or other methods (provided that the information required is addressed by the method selected). If the Administrative Specialist can not update VMIS directly, they should send the supporting documentation to the National Office so that staff can update VMIS on their behalf. Once entered into VMIS, an acknowledgment will be sent to the Administrative Specialist indicating that the National Office has updated VMIS on their behalf.
AARP Tax-Aide Activities, Personnel, and Expenses Reports
These reports help AARP Tax-Aide leaders analyze program performance over the past season and are issued to Regional Coordinators, State Coordinators, Administrative Specialists, and National Office Staff.
The Activity Reports summarizes information at multiple levels (site, LC, DC, state/split-state and region levels). These reports illustrates such things as the number of taxpayers served, the nature of the service they get from the program, the total number of operating sites (and the related averages per site), as well – in some reports - as a Year-over-Year comparisons. These reports are driven by the individual statistic collected at the sites throughout the country that are stored within VMIS. These reports are used for IRS compliance reporting, to justify funding requests for the program to AARP, and to manage the program. A National Report version, showing totals by state/region, is provided to the National Leadership Team and a state/regional summary is published in the annual Happenings Newsletter.
Activity Reporting has several component pieces to it. These include:
Site Sign-in Sheets
Counselors are responsible for recording the type of assistance provided each time they work at a site via the sign-in sheet or locally produced equivalent, being careful to include those helped with Questions and Answers only. The Site Sign-in Sheet can be ordered from fulfillment and is also available on the Extranet at: tavolunteers.
If volunteers assist taxpayers away from a site, especially answering tax questions, they should keep a separate sign in sheet so that this service is not left out of program activity counts.
It is important that District and Local Coordinators follow state schedules and procedures for submission of service statistics via the new web process or ADS as instructed by their state management.
Submission of Summary Activity Reports
Activity Reports are submitted via a web process. Program activity is to be collected at the site level via sign-in sheets, tabulated, and reported by the Local Coordinator to the District Coordinator and ultimately on to the Administrative Specialist via a WEB enabled system.
Concurrent with this process, the National Office receives data from TaxWise™ for comparison purposes and to further aid in segmenting out the nature of services being provided. To get a complete picture of the total level of activity for the AARP Tax-Aide program, a combination of volunteer submitted information and alternative sources of data will be used. These alternative data sources will consist of TaxWise™, received via the IRS and uploaded into the National Database weekly, and program surveys. Based on program feedback from leaders, these data will be included in Activity Reports, but will not be visible on the web enabled system input screens.
Once data are loaded into VMIS, the ADS has access to review the detailed activity reports and make adjustments as necessary to ensure that an accurate report on the number of taxpayers served is ultimately completed within 15 days of the close of the reporting period. The information reported should be incremental in nature. Cumulative totals will automatically be calculated based on the monthly totals reported.
There are a total of 4 reporting periods for Activity Reports as follows:
❖ Last day in February (2/28). This information should represent the activities from the beginning of the tax season to the last day of February and be reported via the web interface no later than March 5th. The information collected in this reporting period is based on the sign-in sheets used in the sites.
❖ Last day in March (3/31). This information should represent the activities from March 1st to the last day of March and be reported via the web interface no later than April 5th. The information collected in this reporting period is based on the sign-in sheets used in the sites.
❖ Last day in April (4/30). This information should represent the activities from April 1st to the last day of April and be reported via the web interface no later than May 5th. The information collected in this reporting period is based on the sign-in sheets used in the sites.
❖ End of the Summer. This information should represent the activities from May 1st to the end of August (8/31) and be reported via the web interface on or before 9/5. The information collected in this reporting period is based on activity of leaders within the states/split-states.
Regardless of the method of submitting data to the National Office, once data is transmitted and summary information is confirmed in the system, sign-in sheets should be destroyed. The site level summary data is sufficient back-up. Sign-in sheets with taxpayer names should not be maintained. Due to concerns about identity theft, never have a taxpayer record their SSN on the sign-in sheet.
Use of Activity Reports
This information is needed by the National Office to comply with the Grant quarterly reporting requirement. To keep the statistical reporting as accurate as possible, the SCs may require regular and more frequent reporting.
The Personnel Report is driven off of the information within VMIS. Although it can be run at any time, the official count of volunteers is taken once a year only (in May). The report shows the volunteers in the program, by state/split-state assignment and region, in several different methods.
❖ First Method: Counts the number of active leaders and non-leaders in the program. Each person is counted once, even if they hold multiple positions. Leaders are counted in the highest level position they hold.
❖ Second Method: The number of people performing instruction for other volunteers is counted.
❖ Third Method: The number of people including those with leadership titles performing actual taxpayer assistance services.
In addition, it shows the average numbers of volunteers within specific levels of structure within the program (average by supervisor, by site, etc). Finally, a year over year comparison of these averages is provided.
The Expense Report illustrates the volunteer initiated expenses for the program broken down by region and state/split-state for a grant cycle (October 1-September 30). Additional segmentation includes expenses by level of position and nature of activity. Selected year-over-year comparisons are illustrated as well as unit costs for service.
The state’s equipment inventory report is due into the National Office by May 15 in order to have the national inventory available for assessing the allocation of the following year’s equipment. The state must have an inventory of all AARP Tax-Aide equipment which includes computers, printers and projectors. Included in this listing of AARP Tax-Aide equipment should be equipment purchased by the National Office, equipment purchased by volunteers with donated funds, and equipment that was donated to the AARP Tax-Aide program (this equipment becomes property of AARP Tax-Aide by the virtue of the donation).
The state Technology Specialist is ultimately responsible for maintaining the equipment inventory for a state/split-state. The SC must have a copy of the state’s inventory. The National Office has introduced a new inventory reporting sheet in order to standardize the data collection elements and format.
Questions regarding storage of equipment and supplies outside of the standard 1040-filing season should be directed to the Regional Coordinator with oversight for the state.
Counselor Evaluation of Training
The IRS Form 13222, Student Course Evaluation, is included with the PBT kits. This evaluation serves an important purpose and will be the basis for changes in the training system both locally and at the national level. Counselor’s completed evaluations will be collected by the Instructor(s) and forwarded to the State Training Specialist.
Instructor and Class Evaluation Form
The IRS Form 13232, Facilitator’s Course Evaluation, is included in the Publication 4555 “Facilitator’s Guide” Kit. It is not in the publication but is part of the kit. The Instructors’ completed Evaluations will be collected by the State Training Specialist upon completion of Instructor Training. The form will also be used for Evaluation of Classroom Presentations. The State Training Specialist or their designee should visit and evaluate as many classes as feasible with particular attention to new Instructors. Modifications to the Instructor Workshop, Counselor classes, assignments, course content, etc. can be made by the Training Specialist, based on a summary of these evaluations.
Review of Volunteer Performance
It is critical to the improvement and ultimate success of the program that volunteer supervisors give on-going constructive feedback to volunteers about their performance. This is especially, though not exclusively, important for Counselors about the accuracy of the returns they prepare. Please give timely feedback to Counselors regarding tax law, using TaxWise™, effective interviewing, etc. in order to help counselors improve their accuracy.
Constructive feedback is for improvement but positive feedback to volunteers is also very important. The AARP Tax-Aide volunteer satisfaction survey repeatedly lists “Thanks from volunteer supervisor” and “verbal feedback about performance” as the first and second preferences of AARP Tax-Aide volunteers for recognition. So give constructive feedback for improvement but also give positive feedback as a form of thanks and appreciation to volunteers.
Volunteers End-of-Season Assessment
Toward the end of the tax season every volunteer is invited to complete a Volunteer Assessment of the AARP Tax-Aide Program and furnish it to his/her supervisor. The form is in the Counselor, Local Coordinator, and Instructor Digests. It is important for volunteers to be heard so all volunteers should complete a form. Each supervisor reviews the assessments received, at each level, and completes one form. Supervisors should take care to consider in their assessment the views expressed in the assessments they receive. Volunteers submit the assessment forms in accordance with the dates printed on the form.
Volunteers who wish to become coordinators indicate this on the Assessment Form. The supervisor receiving a form so marked will forward it to the State Coordinator.
National Assessment Report
The National Office, using the Volunteer Assessment Form, will complete the cycle by consolidating the Regional Coordinator’s reports and providing national feedback, including actions to be taken on deficiencies.
12. Recognition of Service
AARP Tax-Aide award certificates are available for presentation to Counselors as recognition of their contributions to the program. The certificates also may be presented to persons outside of the program who helped to make it a success, such as site sponsors (State Coordinator consultation is desirable).
A generic certificate is available by ordering directly from the fulfillment department. Coordinators complete the certificate by writing in the recipient’s name and the Coordinator’s signature. Other more customized certificates without seals are available on the AARP Tax-Aide Volunteer/Site Recognition Items Form.
In addition to the certificates, personal letters, articles in local newspapers, and letters to the editor in newspapers are excellent forms of volunteer recognition. Upon request, draft personalized letters recognizing specific meritorious service can be sent to the National Office for signature.
IRS will also present certificates at the end of season meetings, if requested.
Alice Stephenson of Oakland, California, is considered the founder of the modern-day AARP Tax-Aide program. These certificates can be obtained from the National Office by emailing: taxaide@ or by faxing 202-434-6026. The Alice Stephenson Quality Site Award is a certificate used to recognize site sponsors. State Coordinators determine how and if they wish to use the certificate.
The Margaret Drescher E-filing Award is a certificate that recognizes a site’s level of achievement as measured by percentage of total federal returns prepared at the site that were e-filed. A site must have a minimum of 50 accepted e-file returns and meet one of the percent levels below. State Coordinators request the awards from National Office specifying the dated, colored sticker earned for the year: bronze (40%), silver (60%), gold (80%), or diamond (90%). The certificate has space for five annual stickers. Margaret Drescher of Medford, OR, was the first National Technology Committee Chair, inspiring others with her enthusiasm and positive attitude to accept the challenge of transitioning to electronic filing.
Service Pins & Plaques
The recognition of volunteers who have served for 5, 10, 15, or 20 years can be done with service award pins.
The Jan Cooper Service Award program recognizes volunteers who have worked with the program for 20, 25, or 30 years as well as RCs, SCs, and Committee Chairs who have retired from their position. During her more than 20 years with AARP, Jan Cooper worked with the AARP Tax-Aide Program. Her passion for how volunteers should be respected and supported was the focus of her work. In recognition of her valuable dedication to the program, AARP Tax-Aide volunteers who achieve similar levels of dedication in years of service will be given this award in her name. This award, in the form of a plaque, is usually ordered by the Administrative Specialist.
When requesting pins and plaques, fill out the AARP Volunteer/Site Recognition Form, and mail or email it to the National Office (an email is also sufficient provided that the same information is contained in the email). When ordering, if possible, please try to bundle your requests and submit them between July 1st through August 30th. Requests received at other times of the year can be processed, but may take additional time to fulfill due to other events and deliverables.
Because of the fiscal constraints of the program, volunteer recognition and end-of-season celebrations expenditures must be held to a minimum. Lunches, buffets, and other expensive gatherings cannot be reimbursed. The District Coordinator should be consulted when planning special events. See Reimbursement Section for specifics.
13. Reimbursement Policies
The AARP Tax-Aide program provides reimbursement to program volunteers for reasonable, necessary and cost-effective out-of-pocket expenses related to tax assistance, counselor training, and administrative activities. Please be aware that the grant funds we have for the program were never intended to reimburse volunteers for the total cost of the AARP Tax-Aide program, but was rather to insure that those who wished to volunteer would not be excluded due to their income limitations. If an expense is not explicitly authorized in this chapter, assume that it is not allowable. The National Office may modify the specifics of allowable expenses from time to time to meet changing program needs. Such changes will be communicated via CyberTax, posted on the volunteer extranet, and updated in the next version of the policy manual.
Volunteers are expected to work a full tax season to be eligible for expense reimbursement. Exceptions must be reviewed and approved by the State Coordinator.
Volunteers not in Leadership positions
Volunteers holding Counselor, Client Facilitator, Non-Counselor, and ERO titles are collectively known as “Non-leaders” and may (a) refuse reimbursement, (b) select a flat rate reimbursement, or (c) select to be reimbursed for “counseling” expenses only. Authorized “counseling” expenses are for transportation to attend training to become a certified Counselor and to provide tax assistance at an AARP Tax-Aide site.
The Non-Leaders flat rate amount is $35 for the entire season.
Volunteers in Leadership positions
Volunteers holding other titles such as instructor, coordinator, specialist and advisor are collectively known as “Leaders” and may (a) refuse reimbursement, (b) request a flat rate reimbursement, or (c) may request to be reimbursed for a wider range of expenses. They may also be reimbursed for training and counseling expenses as are Non-Leaders.
The Leaders flat rate amount is $50 for the entire season.
The only exception to these general rules apply to the Shift Coordinator (SCO). Due to current funding constraints placed on the program, the SCO is eligible for either the $35 flat rate or itemized “Counseling” expenses only.
Expense activity codes
All expenses must be categorized with an appropriate activity code noted on the expense statement to meet grant expense reporting requirements. The following table summarizes the types of activities included in each code:
|TYPE OF ACTIVITY |CODE |NOTES |
|Copies, postage and telephone/fax |A |1, 2, 3, 4 |
|E-file supplies, etc. |S |5 |
|General Leadership activities—transportation |B |6 |
|Instructing and instructor workshops |T |7 |
|Leader flat rate |C | |
|Meetings, specific code determined by level of meeting |K, L, M, N, T, |8 |
| |and E or G | |
|Non-leader flat rate |F | |
|Publicity |P |9 |
|Repair, maintenance and upgrades for equipment |R |10 |
|Supplies other than for e-filing |Z |11 |
|Tax assistance or client facilitation—transportation |I |12, 13 |
|Training for certification—transportation |I |12, 13 |
|Transportation defined | |13 |
|Transportation for activities coded A, P, R, S or Z |B |14 |
Receipts that illustrate actual expenses incurred and that clearly support the amount being requested are required for all expenses other than non-air-fare transportation; see C13 below.
1. Copies, postage and telephone/fax: Copies made on personally owned equipment, cost is limited to 5¢ per copy.
2. Copies, postage and telephone/fax: Postage to mail client tax returns, e-file acceptance letters, etc., is not allowable. Shipments to the IRS must use prepaid labels provided by the IRS. For other postage reimbursements, an explanation of what is being shipped is required when submitting the expense statement.
3. Copies, postage and telephone/fax: Telephone/fax charges must be specifically identified on copies of bills and are limited to 5¢ per minute. Excess cell phone use charges are not allowable. Special rules apply to calling cards (see D14) and Internet access (see D15). For transfer of e-files, the toll free number must be used.
4. Copies, postage and telephone/fax: Authorized expenses for expendables include paper, printer cartridges not available through the National Consumables Contract, cables, CDs, floppy disks, etc. No dollar limits; bulk purchases in reasonable quantities at discounted prices are encouraged.
5. E-file supplies, etc: Expenses for non-expendables such as flash drives and network switches of less than $25 per unit do not require special authorization; expenses of $25 or more per unit require advance authorization by the TCS or SC. Copying, postage and telephone/fax charges directly related to e-filing are chargeable to this “S” activity and should not be coded “A”. This does not include training for e-filing.
6. General Leadership activities—transportation: Includes transportation of Leaders to sites for selection, set-up, management, supervisory visits, equipment movement, training class visits, etc.
7. Instructing and instructor workshops: Transportation of Training Coordinators and Instructors for training classes and instructor workshops. Food and lodging at instructor workshops requires SC approval. A refreshment allowance of $1.50 per Counselor per season is authorized; this expense must be claimed by an Instructor, Training Coordinator, DC, TRS or SC. The number of counselors trained must be shown on the expense statement.
8. Meetings, specific code determined by level of meeting: Transportation, food and lodging. Transportation only for District (K) meetings (seeD6). Expenses for State (M) end of season meetings are limited (see D7). Air and local transportation for National (N) and Regional (L) meetings and meetings of National Committees (E and G). Air transportation may be directly charged by using the National Office travel agent (see section H).
9. Publicity: Expenses for booths at senior fairs and similar events limited to $25 (see section H). Paid advertising is not allowable.
10. Repair, maintenance and upgrades for equipment: Expenses of less than $25 per unit do not require special authorization; expenses of $25 or more per unit require advance authorization by the TCS or the SC. Computer or projector repairs over $200 require advance authorization by the National Office. Printer repairs over $50 require advance authorization by the National Office. The value of repaired or upgraded equipment must be considered in determining the reasonableness of cost to repair or upgrade.
11. Supplies other than for e-filing: Expenses for expendable office supplies—paper clips, staples, rubber bands, file folders, marking pens, etc.—are authorized. Expenses for non-expendable item—staplers, staple removers, pencil sharpeners, calculators, etc.—are not allowable. (see D11 for storage charges)
12. Tax assistance or client facilitation—transportation: Transportation only, for training from October 1 and tax assistance from January to April 20 for both Non-Leaders and Leaders. Subject to SC limitation (see section D) and exception (see D2). Also see section F for submission date requirements. This is the only activity code that may be used by Non-leaders and Shift Coordinators for itemized expenses.
13. Tax assistance or client facilitation—transportation: Transportation defined: Transportation includes mileage at the current mileage rate, parking and tolls or fares for bus, streetcar, subway, airline tickets, etc., provided they do not exceed equivalent mileage. Receipts illustrating actual expense incurred are required for parking tolls if practical. Receipts for airline charges, in instances where the AARP travel vendor was not used, must support the amount of reimbursement being requested.
14. Transportation for activities coded A, P, R, S or Z: Transportation, where the primary expense is chargeable to activity codes A, P, R, S, or Z. Transportation may not be charged to these activity codes.
15. IRS Train-the-Trainer TaxWise training does not cover overnight stays, however local mileage is reimbursable. For the purposes of reimbursement of this local mileage, a cap of 30 miles exists.
Special rules and limitations
Once a volunteer has selected the flat rate or itemized expense reimbursement, the selection may not be changed during the fiscal year October through September.
State Coordinators must establish a dollar limit for the entire season on individual counseling transportation expenses (Activity Code “I”) each year. This limit is subject to the concurrence of the Regional Coordinator and must be provided to the National Office by December 1 of each year. Expenses of both Non-Leaders and Leaders that are expected to exceed this limit must be approved by the SC in advance and in writing. A copy of this approval must be attached to the reimbursement request when it is submitted to the National Office for processing.
Client Facilitators and other volunteers who attended training to become certified Counselors, but who did not achieve that status may claim transportation expenses for training. Volunteers who attended training, did not become certified and do not actively serve in the program during the ensuing tax season may not claim transportation expenses for training.
Mileage claims must show the exact date, purpose, location and the roundtrip mileage. Multiple trips to the same location for the same purpose may be grouped together, but the date of each trip must be shown. An example using the rate for the first half of 2008 follows (note that a new mileage rate took effect on 7/1/2008):
|ACTIVITY |DATE |ACTIVITY, LOCATION AND MILEAGE |COST |
|CODE | | | |
| I |2/5/2008 |Counseling, Anytown Senior Center, 10 miles roundtrip. 1 x|$5.05 |
| | |10 = 10 miles @ 50.5¢ | |
| I |Multiple |Counseling, Anytown Library, 8 miles roundtrip (2/7, 2/14, 2/21, |$40.40 |
| | |2/28, 3/7, 3/14, 3/21, 3/28, 4/4, 4/11) | |
| | |10 trips x 8 miles = 80 miles @ 50.5¢ per mile | |
| I |2/14/2008 |Counseling, Anytown Community Center, 12 miles roundtrip. |$6.06 |
| | |1 x 12 = 12 miles @ 50.5¢ | |
| | |Total |$51.51 |
1. If the Excel version of the expense statement (posted on the Extranet) is used, individual trips must be shown separately as mileage rates are date sensitive. If the carbonless paper copy version of the expense form is used, the dates can be listed on a single line, but still must be referenced individually.
2. In those very rare cases where overnight stays connected with providing tax assistance are necessary, State Coordinators must approve them in advance and sign the expense statement for any meals and lodging for both Non-leaders and Leaders.
3. Reimbursement for Tax assistance visits to a single shut-in are subject to three limitations:
❖ The shut-in must be 60 or older,
❖ Federal tax assistance must be provided, and
❖ Mileage is limited to 30 miles roundtrip.
4. Transportation expenses may not be claimed by multiple volunteers in a car pool traveling to the same location. Car pooling is strongly encouraged whenever practical to reduce program costs.
5. No expenses for celebrations or recognition events are allowable.
6. Transportation, but no other expenses, of District meetings with LCs and other Leaders are allowable.
7. Expenses of State end of season meetings (any meeting held after April 15) that include DCs are allowable only if approved in advance by the RC and the National Office. Costs of meetings of RCs with SCs and the SMT are allowable.
8. If air transportation is authorized by a SC, RC or the National Office, ground transportation may be used, but costs may not exceed air transportation and related airport travel and parking. It is the responsibility of the traveling volunteer to provide supporting documentation of the cost comparison for the two methods of travel. This documentation can be obtained from the AARP Travel vendor (Travizon), and must be included when the reimbursement form is submitted for processing.
9. Expenses incurred in providing exclusively state/local tax assistance are not allowable.
10. Expenses for printer cartridges and digital projector bulbs available on a National Consumables contract are not allowable.
11. Storage expenses must be approved by the RC in advance and in writing.
12. If reimbursement of a proposed e-file item is questionable, the Technology Specialist or the State Coordinator must give written approval. This written approval should be attached to the expense form when it is submitted to the National Office.
13. When an e-file expense claim has been pro-rated between AARP Tax-Aide and personal use, note the ratio of personal use/e-file expenses on the receipt or in an attached note.
14. Telephone calling cards may be used by members of the SMT or NLT in lieu of itemized telephone bills; logs of calls are not required. The rate for all calling cards must be 5¢ per minute or less and the receipt for the original purchase must be attached to an expense statement. Under no instance will a volunteer be reimbursed at a higher rate than $0.05 per minute.
15. High-speed Internet access charges incurred by Administration Specialists to access VMIS, are chargeable to activity code A. They must be submitted on an expense statement separate from all other charges.
As noted at the beginning of this chapter, expenses not explicitly authorized, must be assumed to be not allowable. Some non-allowable expenses are identified in section D, above, and the following are further examples of expenses that are not allowable and will not be reimbursed:
1. Alcoholic beverages. If consumed, separate receipts are recommended to avoid the necessary adjustments for taxes and tips to receipts for food consumed at the same time/place.
2. Automobile expenses of any kind other than mileage, parking and tolls.
3. Entertainment, in room movies, flowers, greeting cards or personal phone calls.
4. Non-expendable equipment of any kind including briefcases, calculators, carrying cases, computers, computer software, copiers, file cabinets, locking mechanisms (national office purchases cables directly), printers, projectors, shelving, shredders, and storage or moving carts. See the section regarding use of Donated Funds for alternatives to this limitation.
5. Personal stationery or calling cards.
6. Rental of equipment including projectors and VCRs.
7. Secretarial or other services or postal box rental.
8. Site expenses including heat, light, power, telephone, internet access, custodian services, contributions or appreciation gifts.
9. Spousal expenses of any kind. Spouses who are also program volunteers may be reimbursed based on their own position and activities.
10. Training including materials, books and reference publications other than those provided by the program.
11. E-filing software and/or transmission costs related to non-TaxWise e-filing software.
12. Although non-federal services may be provided to individual taxpayers, expenses incurred in sole support of these services are not reimbursable per the IRS grant.
13. Reimbursement for end of season meeting expenses. These end-of-season meetings are defined as any meetings that take place after April 15th. Regional Coordinators may meet with their State Coordinators and State Management Teams to debrief on events of the season, discuss what worked and what could have worked better, and begin preliminary discussions on upcoming season’s activities.
14. Costs related to any other end-of-season evaluation meetings for State Coordinators meeting with others, such as DCs, can not be reimbursed unless both the Regional Coordinator and National Office approve the expenses in advance. In such instances, the Regional Coordinator should review the request with their Assistant National Director. Conference calls are a suggested as a cost-efficient alternative.
15. District Coordinators may meet with LCs and other local leaders to debrief on events of the season, discuss what worked and what could have worked better, and begin preliminary discussions on upcoming season’s activities. Mileage for this type of meeting is reimbursable. No other expense for such a meeting is reimbursable.
16. End of season celebratory or recognition events are not covered expenses within the program.
Expense reimbursement is claimed by a signature on a Counselor Flat Rate Form if the Non-leader flat rate is accepted by the volunteer. All volunteers who claim itemized expenses and Leaders who claim the Leader flat rate, submit an Expense Statement (form E234) or the Excel version available on the Extranet. The statement must be complete, signed by the volunteer claiming reimbursement and must be approved by the volunteer’s supervisor of record. Required receipts, that clearly support the amount being request and that illustrate actual costs incurred, as well as any applicable advanced approvals must be attached to the original copy. Claimants should retain a copy and must also provide a copy for the approving supervisor.
Although the expense statement forms are available in an electronic format, the processing of all expense statements at the National Office is still a manual one. Due to current infrastructure capacity limitations at the National Office, submission options for the excel version of form E234 are specific based on the highest position held. These options consist of the following:
1. Volunteers holding the Position of SC or one of the NLT positions may have their supervisor submit their expense statement to the national office from their official email account. This submission process has been approved by our audit department as complying with required documentation trails.
2. Volunteers holding the Position of DC as their highest position may have their approved expense statement faxed to the national office for processing.
3. All other volunteers should submit their expense statement, with supporting receipts as required, via hard copy to the National Office for processing.
4. Regardless of the submission method, the requests must be approved by supervisors, as indicated by signature and ID number, and must include any and all applicable receipts in support of the amount being requested. If submitted electronically, care must be exercised to insure that images are clear and easily readable.
Counselor Flat Rate Forms are sent by the National Office to Local Coordinators in early March. These forms contain a listing of the current counselors, client facilitators, EROs, and Shift Coordinators. Volunteers who accept the flat rate sign and date the form. Those who choose to itemize simply do not sign the form; it is not necessary to cross out names. Local Coordinators verify that the volunteers who have accepted the flat rate have or will work a full season and should confirm the other information shown on the form. Address changes may be noted directly on the form, but no names may be added. These forms should be completed and returned directly to the National Office as soon as they are completed (preferably early April), but no later than June 30. Volunteers holding these titles who are not listed, but who wish to claim the flat rate, must submit an expense statement using activity code “F”. The processing of all Counselor Flat Rate Forms and reimbursement requests using form E234 begins the day after the tax season ends in compliance with grant requirements.
Expense statements that include tax assistance (Activity Code “I”), must be submitted by all volunteers (Non-leaders and Leaders) as close to the end of the tax season (April 15) as possible, but no later than June 30 of the year in which the expenses were incurred. The processing of all “I” coded reimbursement begins the day after the tax season ends in compliance with grant requirements. Leaders claiming the flat rate reimbursement of $50 (code “C”) must also submit their expense statements within this same time period. Note that the Shift Coordinator may not claim the leadership flat rate reimbursement (code “C”).
Leaders requesting a flat rate reimbursement can not also request itemized reimbursements for the same grant year of October through September.
Leaders incurring expenses other than tax assistance, are encouraged to submit expense statements on a quarterly basis. A quarterly statement for April-June may include counseling expenses, but should be submitted by June 30. Expense statements for the quarter ending September 30, the end of the AARP Tax Aide grant year, must be submitted by October 15 of the grant year in which the expense was incurred.
Regardless of the nature of the expense reimbursement being requested, volunteers must submit their reimbursement requests within a timely basis in association with the completion of the grant cycle (October of each year). Failure to submit requests for reimbursement in a timely basis may result in the denial of the reimbursement. Volunteers must make every effort to submit any and all requests for reimbursement no later than October 31st of each grant year. Under no circumstance will expenses beyond one grant year be considered for reimbursement.
Leaders have been provided with labels showing their ID number, title, name and address. They are encouraged to use these labels on expense statements to simplify and speed up the approval process. Labels may not be used on the Excel version if submitted electronically.
Leaders must use the position code of their highest level title on expense statements regardless of the position in which expenses were incurred. Position levels are shown by numbers in front of titles on both the paper and Excel versions of the expense statements (current version of the expense statement only).
Supervising Leaders must review expense statements carefully for completeness, accuracy and compliance with these policies before approving and forwarding them to the National Office for payment. If approved, the supervisor’s ID number and signature are affixed to the statement, a copy is retained and the original with attachments is sent to the National Office.
Authorized approvers have responsibility for ensuring compliance with the policies outlined in this Policy Manual. They have the authority to decline unreasonable or out-of-policy expenditures.
Supervising Leaders who will not be available to sign expense statements must designate an alternate to approve and sign for them. The alternate must sign the supervising Leader’s name and ID number and his/her own signature and ID number.
Volunteers are encouraged to have their expense reimbursements directly deposited in their bank accounts. This will minimize problems associated with incorrect addresses in VMIS, summer addresses and mail delays and losses. The Direct Deposit Authorization Form and instructions for its completion are available on the Extranet.
Volunteers who have not selected direct deposit and whose address on the expense statement is not the same as that in VMIS, must check the “seasonal address” block or attach a note indicating that they have moved and that the address listed on the expense form should be updated in VMIS. Addresses in VMIS must be that of the volunteer during the tax season.
In exceptional circumstances, if a volunteer cannot wait for the normal reimbursement cycle, the State Coordinator may authorize an advance payment. The expense statement is prepared and approved in the normal manner, the word “Preliminary” is written at the top of the statement and the SC’s approval attached. The statement is sent to the National Office. Advance payments must be subtracted from the total claimed at the end of the season on the final expense statement.
Volunteers must not submit reimbursement for a single expense multiple times unless expressly requested to do so in the event of a lost expense statement. The National Office will request a duplicate submission through the standard chain of command within that volunteer’s state/split-state.
Inquiries about outstanding expense statements or other expense questions should be made by the SC or ADS to their Sr. Field Support Technician. It will be helpful if the address of the claimant has been verified and the date of submission by the supervisor is known before an inquiry is made as delayed payments are often the result of address problems or submission delays. Volunteers must not resubmit a request for the same reimbursement that was already submitted previously. The only exception to this rule covers the instance where their reimbursement request has been lost. In these instances, they will be given direction from the National Office regarding the need for them to resubmit their reimbursement request. Such direction will follow the standard chain of command within that volunteer’s state/split-state.
The solicitation of and acceptance of donated funds is covered in Chapter 9 Donations to AARP Tax-Aide. Care must be exercised to insure that donated funds are properly identified for the state/split state.
Donated funds may be expended for any reasonable purpose that furthers program objectives. They may, for example, be used for the purchase of needed equipment such as file cabinets, shredders and computer carts not allowable for reimbursement with AARP Tax-Aide funds. All expenditures must be approved in advance by the SC.
Expense statements claiming reimbursement from donated funds must be clearly marked “Donated Funds” at the top. Expenses must be identified by activity code (S for computers and printers, Z for other equipment and supplies) and the statement must be approved by the SC.
Expenditures may not exceed donated funds actually received at any time.
The mileage rate is reviewed annually and any changes are communicated via a Cybertax e-mail and posted on the Extranet in January. New rates are normally effective on January 1 and are usually the same as the business deduction rate authorized by IRS. Occasionally, a second mileage rate change is made during a year by the IRS and communicated to volunteers via Cybertax and an extranet posting.
The AARP Foundation qualifies to receive state sales tax exemptions in 23 states. If you would like this listing, or if your state qualifies and you wish to have a copy of the exemption form, you can find them posted on the Volunteer Extranet. Included on the extranet are some general instructions concerning the use of the exemption certificate.
The National Office travel agent for air transportation is Travizon, 877-425-5155. They can make travel plans, issue tickets and directly bill the National Office for volunteers specifically invited to attend and therefore travel to National and Regional meetings. Volunteers should always seek the lowest airfare, using senior and restricted fares whenever practical. Direct purchase from airlines or other travel agents may be less expensive in some instances. Expenses incurred in necessary schedule or itinerary changes are claimed as transportation on an expense statement.
If a volunteer is scheduled to attend a meeting that would typically require airline travel, but wishes to drive instead of fly, that volunteer can not be reimbursed for more travel costs than would have been the case if they had flown using a non-refundable coach fare. In such an instance where a volunteer wishes to receive reimbursement for such mileage, they must include documentation of average non-refundable coach airline costs from their point of origin to the meeting location and back with their reimbursement request. To obtain this documentation, the volunteer may contact the AARP Travel vendor (Travizon). If the mileage travel costs are lower than the equivalent coach fare, the volunteer will only reimburse actual mileage.
Efforts to combine booths at senior fairs and similar events with other AARP or Foundation activities are encouraged.
Starting the Season
Newly-appointed State Coordinators and SMT volunteers attend an orientation session in July to receive training, review their roles, and clarify their responsibilities. The National Leadership Team meets in August or early September to review AARP Tax-Aide and IRS policies, procedures, and changes for the new tax season. Based on these deliberations and decisions, the National Office prepares materials during September for dissemination at the October Regional Meetings.
Each Regional Coordinator meets with the region’s State Coordinators in October to define program goals and policies, review procedures, establish state goals, and develop strategies for their implementation in October.
State and district meetings are to be held in October or November to review established state goals, to develop district implementation strategies, review policies and procedures, and to ensure that each District Coordinator has developed a work plan for the season. So that they are aware of policies, procedures, and any state issues, the scheduling of state and district meetings must follow regional and state meetings respectively. This way, these policies, procedures and issues can be communicated throughout the different levels of volunteers more effectively. At the discretion of each State Coordinator, depending upon resources and demographics of the state, one of two options is recommended:
|Option 1 |Option 2 |
|State Coordinator holds state meeting(s) with all District |State Coordinator holds meetings throughout the state with District |
|Coordinators. Then, District Coordinators hold district meetings|and Local Coordinators attending the one nearest them. (No |
|with their Local Coordinators. |overnights for all LCs and most DCs allowed) |
|(Overnights for DC allowed.) | |
Purchase Orders (Regional, State Coordinators and Instructors only)
A request for a purchase order to arrange for National Office direct billing should be made for regional and state meetings as well as Instructor workshops at the state level. This process will:
❖ Enable the AARP Tax-Aide program to utilize the purchasing power of the entire Association more effectively,
❖ Ensure that appropriate language is incorporated into the contracts to provide adequate business insurance and protect the AARP Foundation from additional liability. The specific language needed is as follows:
Neither party shall be liable in damages or have the right to terminate this Agreement for any delay or default in performing hereunder if such delay or default is caused by conditions beyond its control including, but not limited to Act of God, Government restriction, wars, insurrections and/or any other cause beyond the reasonable control of the party whose performance is affected.
To the extent permitted by law, each party hereby agrees to protect, indemnify, defend and hold the other harmless from any loss, liability, costs or damages arising from actual or threatened claims or causes of actions resulting from the negligence or intentional misconduct of such party or its respective officers, directors, employees, agents, contractors, members or participants (as applicable).
❖ Enable the National Office to coordinate payment of the hotel’s bills more effectively, and
❖ Minimize the costs that volunteers may incur directly that they would then need to get reimbursed for later on.
To initiate this process, the requester (Regional Coordinator, State Coordinator, or other assigned leaders as applicable) should send all meeting specifications on an Event Reservation Form or in an email, to the National Office.
AARP Tax-Aide volunteers should request the government rate applicable to the location when making lodging arrangements for AARP Tax-Aide functions per our IRS TCE contractual agreement. These rates are listed on the Internet at (look under travel resources for per diem rates.) Rates lower than the government rate may be negotiated and the information forwarded to the National Office to finalize the purchase order for the meeting. Volunteers are not authorized to sign contracts for AARP Tax-Aide events for meeting facilities and/or group meals. Volunteers must ask the hotel to email the contract to the National Office.
The National AARP Tax-Aide Office will coordinate with the AARP Procurement Department to ensure that all necessary information is provided within the contract and obtain the appropriate signatures. This process typically takes 10-20 business days from receipt of the contract at the National Office; but may take longer if information is incomplete or issues need to be negotiated with the hotel.
If a hotel/motel requests documentation, in lieu of the customary government ID card, the National Office can provide a copy of the Cooperative Agreement cover sheet, including the application page stating the lodging rate policy. AARP Tax-Aide also qualifies for exemption from federal taxes; the 501(c)(3) Federal Employer Identification Number is 52-0794300.
The National Office will provide the PO to the Regional Coordinator or State Coordinator as it becomes available. A copy of the purchase order will be faxed to the host facility directly from the AARP Procurement department, which may then bill AARP directly after on-site signature approval is given by the Regional Coordinator or State Coordinator.
Purchase orders should be used for volunteer lodging and/or meals. If volunteers incur additional meal expenses that can not be charged to the master purchase order with the hotel, they should submit their expenses with appropriate receipts on an Expense Statement. If a purchase order was not used, the Regional Coordinators or State Coordinators should submit major meeting expenses that they paid directly on an expense statement accompanied by a list of meeting attendees and receipts.
Procedure for Meetings and Conference Calls (Step-by-Step Process)
The following forms/instructions are to be used when scheduling AARP Tax-Aide regional/state level meetings/conference calls.
Event Reservation Form To be used to obtain hotel accommodations through generating a master account for meetings. An email containing the same information as this form can also be used.
Reservation and Emergency On-Line System: This on-line system will be used to invite volunteers to the National and Regional meetings. Included in this system will be hotel, meeting, and travel specifics. The information provided using this system will be used to notify the hotel of the accommodations needed in the master contract for the meeting.
| | |NATIONAL OFFICE/ | |
|VOLUNTEER |Days |& PROCUREMENT OFFICES |Days |
|Requester: |at least 6-8 |commits the following with chosen hotel: |*typically 10-20 |
|submits all hotel needs to National Office, which |weeks prior to |rooms (sleeping/meetings) |business days |
|includes: |the meeting |banquets/lunch/breaks | |
|attendees list with meeting room needs, | |audio visual |*but may be longer |
|arrival/departure dates | | |if additional terms |
|Audio visual requirements | |Coordinates with appropriate National Office |and conditions need |
|desired hotel and location | |departments to ensure that all required language |to be negotiated |
|banquet/lunch/breaks requirements for inclusion in | |appears in the contract(s) and obtains all |with the hotel |
|contracts | |necessary AARP authorization signatures on the | |
| | |contracting documents | |
|- OR - | | | |
| | |creates Purchase Requisition in order to generate | |
|Requestor: | |the Purchase Order | |
|contacts hotel directly with to coordinate meeting | |send/fax Purchase Order to requester/hotel and | |
|specifics (outlined above) | |obtains all necessary signatures | |
|requests electronic copy of the draft contract be | | | |
|sent to the National Office for review | | | |
|keep one copy of the initial electronic copy of the| | | |
|draft contract for their records | | | |
|Contacts the National Office | | | |
|UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE VOLUNTEERS TO SIGN HOTEL/FACILITY CONTRACTS |
Conference Call Reservations: To arrange conference calls, state level leaders should call/email their Sr. Field Support Technician in the National Office with the following information:
❖ Date(s) of Call
❖ Time: (Begin), (End) Eastern time
❖ Length of Call
❖ Names and phone numbers of leaders participating in the call
Volunteer Travel Accident Insurance
The AARP Foundation provides travel accident insurance coverage for AARP Tax-Aide volunteers for accidental death and dismemberment and medical expenses for any injury incurred while conducting AARP Foundation business directly related to the volunteer’s position. This coverage does not insure any damages to a volunteer’s personal property (e.g. automobile, computer or home, etc) The medical expense benefit is coordinated with Medicare Part A and Part B or an assumed equivalent insurance coverage, regardless of the insured’s age. This is a supplement and should not be viewed as a volunteer’s primary insurance. Notification of this insurance is provided in the Local Coordinator and the Counselor Digests.
The levels of coverage are as follows:
❖ $25,000 for loss of life
❖ $3,000 for Excess Medical benefits
❖ $55,000 for Medical evacuation and repatriation of mortal remains.
❖ Beneficiary specifics follow the wills and estate planning laws in the jurisdiction of the volunteer’s primary residence.
If any AARP Tax-Aide volunteer sustains an accidental injury while conducting AARP Tax-Aide business, they should notify the AARP insurance department through their supervisor and AARP Tax-Aide State Coordinator. Notification, preferably via email, should be sent to:
AARP Insurance and Risk Management Office
Attn: Albert T. Fierro, President
AARP Andrus Insurance Fund
601 E Street, NW, Room A8-100
Washington, DC 20049
Phone: (202) 434-3245
The following information should be provided:
❖ Name (and ID# if available) of AARP Tax-Aide volunteer
❖ Contact information for the AARP Tax-Aide volunteer (email, phone number)
❖ Name and contact information of the volunteer’s AARP Tax-Aide volunteer supervisor
❖ Date and place of accident (include city and state)
❖ Details of AARP Foundation business being conducted
❖ Name(s) and address(es) of witness(es) (when possible)
❖ Details of accident, given to the AARP Tax-Aide State Coordinator
❖ Names of medical providers and contact information, if applicable
The Risk Management department will address and respond directly to the volunteer on matters of payment of claims and will keep the National Office informed of the status of claims.
Volunteer Liability Protection
The Introduction and Administrative Guidelines of the IRS Volunteer Assistor’s Guide states that volunteers are not legally liable under federal law for the returns that they prepare. The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 (S.543) provides that certified volunteers are not liable for harm caused by an act or omission if they’re acting within the scope of their responsibilities and the harm was not willful.
Certificate of Insurance for Site Liability
The Association holds a master business insurance policy to cover all its business related activities. The AARP Tax-Aide program is covered by this policy. Primary coverage is for $1 million, but if proof of excess insurance is required it can be provided. The certificate outlines that the AARP National Office will hold harmless the site in accordance with the insurance coverage provided by AARP.
The current coverage period ends on February 14, 2009 and will be renewed prior to its expiration.
Requesting a certificate is an option available to a Coordinator, but it is not required for all sites.
If a certificate is needed or wanted for a site, the Coordinator can request it using the new Site Information WEB system (scheduled to go live fall 2008). If using this system, a request will be automatically sent to the AARP Risk Management department. Alternatively, the Coordinator can write (via mail or email) to the AARP Tax-Aide National Office Sr. Field Support Technician (see the Reference section for contact information) with the request, who will forward your request onto the Risk Management department. When writing, make sure to include this information:
❖ Your contact information (include phone, address, email)
❖ Indicate if you would like to receive a copy of the certificate in addition to the facility management
❖ exact address of the site(s)
❖ date of expected AARP Tax-Aide activity
❖ name of the company(ies) needing proof of insurance (plus any additional insurer names if applicable)
❖ contact information/director at the site(s) including fax and email contact information
❖ SIDN (for cross referencing in VMIS, if necessary)
❖ date the certificate is needed
The certificate will be issued directly to the site unless otherwise requested by the volunteer. Certificates can be made available typically within 2-3 business days of the receipt of a written request being submitted to the AARP National Office for requests within the current period of coverage. For certificates in advance of the current period of coverage (i.e. you need a certificate for activities that will take place on February 15th), please submit your request no later than February 8th to ensure that the certificate can be made available in time.
A certificate covering the period tax season can not be issued until either very close to or after the start of the new coverage period of February 15th. If proof of insurance is needed to assist with preseason preparations with a site, a current period certificate can be issued and used as a place holder. This certificate should be sufficient to enable coordination with the site facility management. If additional assurances are needed, National Office management is available to discuss any particulars of individual preseason preparations. Contact the AARP Tax-Aide National Office Sr. Field Support Technician to request this additional level of documentation.
The Risk Management department will send (via email) certificates directly to the contact person for the site. If a certificate was requested, and was not received within 4-5 business days, please notify the AARP Tax Aide National Office.
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AARP (Pronounced A-A-R-P, not “arp” or “double A-R-P”) – The Association was called the American Association of Retired Persons, but this was changed in 1999 to AARP
ADS- (Administrative Specialist) – Volunteer member of the State Management Team who works with the State Coordinator to implement and maintain administrative procedures
AND (Assistant National Directors) – Staff in the National AARP Tax-Aide Office who oversee program operations across the country including working with volunteers on training, recruitment, and volunteer management issues, and outreach and partnerships
CFR – (Counselor Flat Rate) – Form used to identify those counselors that wish to receive a flat rate reimbursement of expenses as opposed to itemizing their costs
CF – (Client Facilitator) – A volunteer who manages the site flow of taxpayers
COORDINATOR – Volunteer leader in AARP Tax-Aide program
COUNSELOR – AARP Tax-Aide Volunteer who is IRS certified and prepares taxes
DISTRICT – AARP Tax-Aide geographic entity within a state defined by State Coordinator (county, city, metropolitan sector, etc.)
DC (District Coordinator) – AARP Tax-Aide district (sub state) volunteer leader
E-FILE – Electronic filing of tax returns
EFIN – E-File license number associated with TaxWise
ERO – (Electronic Return Originator) Volunteer Responsible for E-Filing transmission
EXTRANET – Contains AARP Tax-Aide resources and is located at tavolunteers
EXTENDED SERVICE – Taxpayer service given outside the standard 1040-filing season (after April 15th)
FLAT RATE – A standard amount for tax assistance or leadership reimbursement
FULFILLMENT – AARP staff unit responsible for fulfilling all requests for AARP publications and printed resources, located in Newington, Virginia
INSTRUCTOR – Volunteer who provides tax and administrative training to other volunteers who counsel
IRS (Internal Revenue Service) – Bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department responsible for collection of taxes, etc
LC (Local Coordinator) – AARP Tax-Aide volunteer leader who generally supervises Counselors
NLT – AARP Tax-Aide National Leadership Team comprised of volunteer chairs of the tax training, technology, and leadership development national committees, the ten volunteer Regional Coordinators, and key national program staff
NON-COUNSELOR – AARP Tax-Aide Volunteer who assists program as interpreter, etc.
PCS (Partnership and Communications Specialist)- Volunteer member of the State Management Team who works with the State Coordinator to implement and maintain partnerships, program publicity and communication activities
RC – (Regional Coordinator) AARP Tax-Aide Volunteer who oversee program operations in a multi-state area (region) and who supervise the State Coordinators
RELATIONSHIP MANAGER – IRS SPEC employee responsible for volunteer programs in a territory
SC (State Coordinator) – AARP Tax-Aide volunteer responsible for program operations in a state
SCOPE (SCOPE OF PROGRAM) - Tax topics covered in IRS volunteer training materials or in AARP Tax-Aide training classes provided that Counselors have been qualified under AARP Tax-Aide procedures
SHUT-INS – Persons whose physical condition keeps them confined to a home (institutional or personal)
SIDN – (Site Identification Number) Unique number assigned to all sites. It is used to identify all returns processed, both paper and e-file, to the IRS as being associated with a specific site.
SITE – Location where tax assistance is performed
SMT – AARP Tax-Aide’s State Management Team, comprised of SC (State Coordinator), ADS (Administrative Specialist), PCS (Partnership and Communications Specialist), TCS (Technology Specialist), and TRS (Training Specialist)
SPEC – (Stakeholders, Partnership, Education and Communications) IRS Group responsible for volunteer assistance programs, including TCE, specifically named Stakeholder, Partnerships, Education and Communication
SUMMARY ACTIVITY REPORT – A state level report of assistance given at the sites
SUPERVISING COORDINATOR – Any AARP Tax-Aide Coordinator who has supervisory responsibility for other volunteers. Term usually used to denote a volunteer’s immediate supervisor
TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) – IRS program in which volunteers assist low and moderate income persons age 60 and over, free of charge, in preparation of taxes
TCS (Technology Specialist)- Volunteer member of the State Management Team who implements, maintains and evaluates automated systems for: tax preparation, administrative procedures, and volunteer training
TIGTA (Treasury Inspector General Tax Administration) – the congressionally mandated oversight and invest gory body for the IRS and IRS funding programs
TERRITORY – Geographical entity defined by IRS
TRS (Training Specialist)- Volunteer member of the State Management Team who plans and implements necessary training for Instructors in the state or sub-state
UTS (Universal Tax Systems) company that provides the TaxWiseTM software purchased by the IRS for TCE and VITA volunteer use
VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) – Another IRS SPEC program in which volunteers assist taxpayers free of charge in preparation of taxes
VMIS (Volunteer Management Information System) – A database that is designed to hold information on volunteers, service sites, and activity counts throughout AARP Tax-Aide as well as other volunteer programs within AARP. The AARP Tax-Aide information contained in this database is used to generate a variety of program reports, mailing lists for distributing program materials, recognizing years of service and tracking volunteer skills and qualifications
Listing of IRS Publications Not Used by the Program
Below is a listing of the IRS publications that are not used by the AARP Tax-Aide program and should not be used to provide tax assistance services. This listing is not considered to be an all inclusive list, and volunteers are encouraged to ask their supervisor for additional clarity as necessary:
❖ Form 13614 Intake and Interview Sheet
❖ Publication 730 Important Tax Records Envelope
❖ Publication 1084 Site Coordinators Handbook
❖ Form 8158 Quality Review
❖ IRS Free Tax Help/anti-discrimination poster
Administrative Packet · See Materials/Supplies AARP Automatic Shipments
ADS (Administrative Coordinator) · 13, 19, 27, 32, 51, 54, 55, 56, 57, 59, 60, 61, 66, A, B
ADS (Administrative Specialist) · 60
Awards/Recognition · 65
Counselors · 64, 65, 66
Events · 66
Ordering Pins/Plaques · 66
Sites · 65
Cybertax · 9, 22, 45, 46
Extranet · 6, 9, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 36, 37, 42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 61
Happenings · 45, 54, 60
Computers & Equipment · 9, 20, 30, 32, 38, 41, 42, 43, 48, 51, 52, 54, 63, See IRS Depot, See Reports/Reporting, See TaxWise
Consumables · 44
Donated Funds · 44
Donations · 47
Inventory · 44, 47
IRS Depot · 43
Ordering · 43
Passwords · 41
Software · 41
Storage · 38, 48, 63
Use of personal computers · 36
Confidentiality · 9, 10, 29, 30, 31, 34, 37, 42, See Taxpayer Information
DC (District Coordinator) · 18, 27, 42, 45, 53, 58, 60, 61, 66, 79, A
Donations · 9, 20, 31, 43, 44, 47, 49
Award · 65
Copy of Tax Return · 29
Documentation · 42
EFIN · 41
National Database (VMIS) · 51
Retension of data · See Taxpayer Information
SIDN · 32
Software Ordering · See TaxWise
Training · 21, See
35 Returns · 52
Documentation · 41
EFIN · 41, 52
Site Size · 30
1040 · 29
1040X · 25
13206 · 27
13222 · 63
13614 · C
13615 · 10, 34
2333V · 51, 53
4555 · 63
8158 · C
8879 · 38, 42
AARP Order Form · 52
Appointment Letters · 18, 19
Authorization · 37
Biography · 19
CFR · 74, 75
Donated Equipment and Supplies · 47
E234 · 74, 75
Equipment Inventory · 63
Intake Sheet · 29, 33, 42
IRS Electronic Order · 51
Ordering Purchased Equipment · 43
Personnel · 19, 59, 60
Pub 4189 · 26
Site Sign-In Sheet · 29, 33, 61, 62
Standard Acknowledgment · 47
Tax Exemption · 80
Volunteer Direct Deposit · 60
Volunteer Reimbursement · 71, 72
Forms and Publications · 51, 53, 63
Insurance · 83
Intake Sheet · 29, 33, 42
IRS SPEC · 10, 11, 32, 42, 52, B, C
LC (Local Coordinator) · 5, 16, 19, 24, 27, 29, 31, 34, 45, 53, 58, 59, 60, 61, 64, 79, 83, B
AARP Automatic Shipments · 51
AARP Consumables · 44
AARP items to be ordered · 52
AARP site materials · 33
IRS site materials · 53
Volunteer Extranet · 45
National Database (IRS' STARS) · 32
National Database (VMIS) · 16, 19, 20, 27, 32, 51, 56, 59, 60, 62, C
Quality Review · 5, 6, 14, 29, 30, 65
RC (Regional Coordinator) · 5, 10, 11, 14, 18, 19, 21, 24, 43, 45, 48, 52, 54, 57, 60, 73, B
Cap of 30 miles · 13, 70, 71
Consumables · 44
Copies · 29
Donated Funds · 49
Flat Rate · 54, 58, 67, 68, 70, 74, 75, A
Hours · 67
Itemized · 67, 68, 70, 72, 74, 75
Mileage · 71
Purpose · 67
Special Authorization · 69, 70
Training · 23, 24
Unallowable · 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72
VMIS · 59
Reports/Reporting · 5, 11, 13, 20, 21, 24, 45, 54, 55
Accidental injury · 83
Activity Reporting · 5, 27, 29, 32, 33, 54, 60, 61, B
Activity Reporting · 51
Equipment Forecasting · 43
Equipment Inventory · 63
Expense Report · 62
IRS · 27
Lost/Stolen Computer or data · 38
Personnel Report · 62
TCS and Activity Reporting · 51, 52
Rosters · 32, 59
All Volunteer · 27
Leadership Roster · 51
SC (State Coordinator) · 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 37, 42, 43, 44, 45, 48, 49, 52, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 60, 63, 64, 65, 72, 73, 79, 80, 81, 83, A, B
Scope (In/Out) · 13, 14, 24, 29, 84, B
Security · See Taxpayer Information
Shut-In · 5, 13, 27, 29, B
SIDN · 29, 32, 41, 51, 55, 56, B
Sites · See Taxpayer Information, See Materials/Supplies
Counselor Assignment · 27
Criteria for selection · 31
Hours · 33
Insurance · 31, 84
Taxpayer Information · 9, 21, 29, 33, 36, 37, 42, 62, See TPClear, See Confidentiality
TaxWise · 32, 36, 38, 41, 51, 61, 64, C
TCS (Technology Specialist) · 39, 41, 43, 44, 48, 51, B, C
TPClear · 36, 37, 42
Annual certification · 26, 30, 59
ERO · 23
Hours of Teaching · 23, 24
Link and Learn · 25
Military & International · 26
Powerpoint · 21
Tax · 29
Taxes · 24, 26, 27
VMIS · 20
Travel · 13, 30, 79
Costs · 33
TRS (Training Specialist) · 23, 26, 27, 54, B, C
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Website for the public: taxaide
Website for volunteers (Extranet): tavolunteers
2 Million People Served
Black Indicates Volunteer Supervisory Responsibility
* Can be a Counselor or an on-line counselor
** In limited instances, with the approval of the National Office, an acting position may exist to aid in management transition issues
Regional Partnership/Communications Advisor (RPA)
Regional Technology Advisor
Regional Training Advisor
Regional Administrative Advisor
Local/District Team (LDT)
State Management Team (SMT)
National Office Staff
Leadership Team (NLT)
National Committee Chairs
Technology, Training, Leadership
Administration Specialist (ADS)
Electronic Return Originator (ERO)
AARP Tax-Aide is a program of the AARP Foundation, offered in conjunction with the IRS.
Published by the AARP Tax-Aide Program.
AARP Tax-Aide is a program of the AARP Foundation, offered in conjunction with the IRS.
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