Volunteer with our Tax Benefits Program

Join our volunteer team and be the change you wish to see, from home! 
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Code for America’s Tax Benefits volunteers serve as the catalyst to connect taxpayers with low or no income to important tax benefits that can be a tremendous boost to their financial situation.

Our easy-to-use virtual platform, GetYourRefund, provides an accessible option for many taxpayers to get connected to free tax preparation services and access to cash benefits. Our efiling tool, GetCTC, allows filers with low or no income to submit their own simplified tax returns directly to the IRS to receive the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the third stimulus payment. Our volunteers assist filers in using these online tools, and collect taxpayer data to explore innovative ways to connect underserved populations to important unclaimed tax credits.

Ready to learn more?

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History

Code for America’s Tax Benefits program was established in 2020 with the goal to close the tax benefits participation gap by identifying the most equitable and easy ways for people with low or no income to access the refundable tax benefits for which they are eligible.

Our goal was to reach people who are traditional nonfilers or people who do not have a filing requirement but are otherwise eligible for tax benefits. Since there was very little data available about how best to reach this demographic, we knew we needed to be creative and build accessible tools that people could utilize on their own.

After the 2020 pilot season and the sudden onset of the pandemic, we partnered with over 50 VITA organizations, part of the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program that provides free tax preparation services for millions of taxpayers all over the country. We built an online platform, GetYourRefund, for these organizations to provide virtual tax prep services to the clients they were unable to serve in person due to the pandemic. Additionally, offering a virtual option enabled them to also expand their services to individuals unable to travel to their tax sites, including filers in other states. While VITA does a phenomenal job serving their clients, we observed that their operations were limited by specific identity and documentation requirements imposed upon them by the IRS. Specifically, strict ID requirements precluded many individuals with low or no income from using the service, and the reliance on taxpayer-provided tax documentation proved to be another barrier many filers could not overcome. 

In addition to GetYourRefund, we determined other services and products would need to be developed to successfully reach and serve filers with low or no income who were otherwise excluded from using VITA. In 2021, we launched GetCTC, a do-it-yourself simplified filing tool that enabled nonfilers to file a return directly with the IRS to claim the newly expanded Child Tax Credit. In just a few months, over 275,000 returns were filed, bringing in an estimated $400,000,000 in refunds to individuals who would have otherwise missed out on this poverty-reducing credit. 

Yet, even with the success of GetCTC, data showed that barriers still persisted for many around ID verification and tax documentation requirements. In 2023, we’ll be trying new methods of service delivery, such as:

  • rethinking ways to do ID verification
  • trying new approaches to tax documentation and information collection
  • exploring innovative ways to provide support for existing do-it-yourself products

Current Products

GetYourRefund

Online platform to communicate with taxpayers about the tax preparation process, help them gather their documents, and assign them to a local VITA organization for tax preparation.

GetCTC

Simplified filing system for filers with low and no income to directly apply for the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and missing stimulus payments. For 2023, the functionality for this tool could change depending on various factors.

Mini Pilot Projects

For 2023, we’ll be exploring ways to test what an expedited federal filing system could look like, examining different ways to verify taxpayer identities and access taxpayer documentation, and building best practices for customer support for existing do-it-yourself tax preparation programs.

Current Opportunities

Tax Benefits Screener volunteers help clients complete the GetYourRefund application process, ensure clients have all necessary information and documentation, and help answer basic questions. This role does not require IRS tax certification.
To read the full job description, click here.

Client Acceptance Advocate volunteers assist nonfilers in using our e-filing tool by helping them resolve why the IRS rejected their return and providing detailed guidance on the best resolution for their filing situation.
To read the full job description, click here.

Data Entry & Analyst volunteers assist in testing different methodologies around collecting taxpayer information, identifying potential barriers to developing an expedited filing system, and exploring best practices for supporting taxpayers using do-it-yourself tax filing programs.
To read the full job description, click here.

Tax Preparer volunteers prepare tax returns for eligible taxpayers within the scope of the mini pilot. Returns will be prepared in tax preparation software using information and documentation provided by the taxpayer. Volunteers are required to get IRS certified at the Advanced level.
To read the full job description, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Even though the services being offered are tax-related, no previous tax knowledge or tax preparation experience is required to volunteer. Our training will give you all the info you need to succeed in whichever role you choose. Much of the work is focused primarily on customer service. We will provide training for any relevant tax law needed to perform in your role.  

With customer service at the heart of our work, our volunteers are asked to serve at least four to six hours per week to ensure they are able to respond in a timely manner to the client they’re serving.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is a program that came out of the IRS over 50 years ago and was designed to help taxpayers with low income file their tax returns for free. The program has been wildly successful and nonprofits all over the country offer VITA services as a means to fight poverty and promote financial stability. Since 2021, many VITA organizations across the country have begun to use GetYourRefund to serve clients virtually.

GetYourRefund is an online platform that VITA organizations use to offer their tax preparation services virtually. It is essentially an online file management system where clients provide their tax information and documents and can receive communication back from a volunteer. Our Tax Benefits Screener role is similar to the Greeter role at a VITA in-person site, where they make sure the taxpayer has all their information and documentation in order. You’ll do the same prior to assigning them to a VITA organization for tax preparation.

GetCTC is a do-it-yourself tool, meaning it is designed to be completed by the client without assistance. But when a client gets stuck in the process or their return is rejected by the IRS, our Client Acceptance Advocate volunteers provide the guidance necessary to help the client resolve their situation. Since many clients have been victims of identity theft or are in precarious tax filing situations, volunteers will be most successful if they are able to exercise both a professional and empathic approach to this role. Please note, the exact form in which GetCTC will function as an e-filing tool is dependent upon several factors, most of which won’t be known until early 2023.

If that happens, we will repurpose our e-filing tool, GetCTC, to test other ways we can help expedite the filing process for individuals and families with low or no income. We will keep our volunteers posted about what opportunities will be available when we’ve determined the scope of its functionality.

No. Code for America is a remote-first organization with staff and volunteers located all over the country. We offer shifts that accommodate all timezones and are also available on weekends.