Frequently asked questions about volunteering with CEP are listed below. With other questions, please contact the Volunteer Engagement department via email or at (312) 630-0288.
- What support is available for volunteers?
- What previous experience is required for volunteers?
- Is training available for volunteers?
- Which tax site is best for me?
- What if I make a mistake on someone’s tax return?
- How does CEP screen clients?
- Can I receive Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits for volunteering?
- Can I receive CPE credits for time spent in volunteer training?
- Are there one-day volunteer opportunities available for groups?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Clients must meet income guidelines to be eligible for individual programs:
- Tax Help: Individual income under $25,000 or family income under $50,000
- Tax Clinic: Income under 250% of the poverty line
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.
The Center for Economic Progress is authorized to provide CPE credits for CPAs only. Due to the recent changes to Treasury Department Circular 230, the Center for Economic Progress is not able to offer continuing education credits to Enrolled Agents and Registered Tax Return Preparers at this time. We hope EAs and RTRPs will still join our program to help low-income families access valuable tax credits.
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.
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 20 hours at a tax site
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.