"This is a great volunteer program." Ester, CEP volunteer since 2006

FAQs

Frequently asked questions about volunteering with CEP are listed below. With other questions, please contact the Volunteer Engagement department via email or at (312) 630-0285.


What support is available for volunteers?

CEP’s Volunteer Engagement staff is available to provide general support via email or at (312) 630-0288. Support from program supervisors is also provided:

  • Tax site volunteers work alongside site managers and veteran volunteers that are available to answer questions. All tax returns are checked by a quality review expert, who can provide feedback.
  • Tax representatives work closely with our tax clinic manager, who provides guidance and assistance via phone, email or office visits.
  • Office volunteers work directly with staff members, who are available to provide assistance.

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What previous experience is required for volunteers?

For most of our volunteer opportunities, no experience is needed! The most important traits in a volunteer are dedication, follow-through and an enthusiasm for working with a variety of people. Please see position descriptions for any specific requirements.

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Is training available for volunteers?

Volunteer training is designed to make our opportunities accessible for all volunteers regardless of experience. All training is provided. Requirements vary by position; see our training page for details for specific roles.

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Which tax site is best for me?

Most volunteers select a site that is conveniently located with hours that match their schedule. To search by zip code, use the search box in the top right section of any page of our website.

If you have flexible availability, we generally have a stronger need for weeknight volunteers. In Chicagoland, our need is greatest outside of the Loop.

The Volunteer Engagement department is happy to answer questions about selecting a site via email or at (312) 630-0288.

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What if I make a mistake on someone’s tax return?

Each tax return is reviewed on site by a quality review expert with extensive tax training, so most mistakes are corrected before submitting the return to the IRS.

If an error sneaks through the review process, volunteers that have registered with CEP through our online signup process and passed the IRS certification exam for the current tax year cannot be held legally responsible for the error and are covered under our volunteer liability insurance. Additionally, CEP’s tax clinic can help correct any errors that are discovered on tax returns prepared at CEP tax sites.

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How does CEP screen clients?

Clients must meet income guidelines to be eligible for individual programs:

  • Tax Help: Individual income under $30,000 or family income under $55,000
  • Tax Clinic: Income under 250% of the poverty line

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Can I receive Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits for volunteering?

The Center for Economic Progress is not authorized to issue CPE credits for hours spent volunteering. We are authorized to give credits only for hours spent in training (see below for requirements). No credits will be issued for time spent volunteering.

For CPA’s, Enrolled Agents, attorneys and AFSP tax preparers with a valid PTIN

The IRS issues CPE credit to qualified volunteers who volunteer at CEP’s tax sites.  In order to qualify, you must complete all of your certification tests, including Standards of Conduct and Intake/Interview and Quality Review, on the IRS Link and Learn website rather than on the CEP training website.  In addition, you must certify at the Advanced level and complete at least 10 volunteer hours during the tax season.  Once you have completed and logged the required volunteer hours for the season, your site manager or a member of the CEP Volunteer Engagement staff can sign off on the bottom section of Form 13615.  For more information, see the IRS Fact Sheet on Continuing Education Credits

For CPAs licensed in the state of IL

CEP issues additional CPE credits to CPAs for the completion of certain online and in-person training classes.  Eligible volunteers must complete at least 25 volunteer hours during the tax season.   The list of eligible classes and available credit hours can be found here.   In order to get CPE credit for these sessions, please click the box requesting CPE credit during the registration process or contact Volunteer Engagement at volunteer@economicprogress.org.  Unfortunately, CEP cannot issue CPE credits to EA or attorneys for our training at this time.  

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Can I receive CPE credits for time spent in volunteer training?

Volunteers who meet CEP's requirements (listed below) receive one credit for each hour of classroom training attended. For online trainings, CEP is authorized to award credits at a rate of half the average completion time. For example, a participant completing an online course with an average completion time of two hours earns one credit. We are not able to award partial credits. New volunteers that complete Basic Tax Preparation 1-4 can expect to receive about 7 credits.

CPE credits are awarded at CEP's discretion to those that meet their volunteer commitment by:

  • Attending all required trainings for the tax preparer role
  • Passing the current year IRS certification test and the Standards of Conduct test
  • Volunteering and logging at least 25 hours at a tax site

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How do I request and receive CPE credits for time spent in volunteer training?

CPE credits can be requested during volunteer registration or by contacting the Volunteer Engagement department via email or at (312) 630-0288. Certificates are mailed in June.

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Are there one-day volunteer opportunities available for groups?

If you have a group that would like to volunteer in our office, we would be happy to work with you to determine a date, time and project that suits your organization. Please contact the Volunteer Engagement department via email or at (312) 630-0288.

We cannot accommodate one-time volunteers at any of our tax sites.

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