Certification and Qualification

Learning IRS Tax Law:

  • Using Pubs 4491 and 4491-X, and/or the IRS on-line Link-and-Learn, work through the material and do exercises indicated. These Pubs are now only available on line. You may also find the NTTC Workbook exercises helpful as well.
  • The NTTC has provided a Self-Study program which can be found on the Volunteer Portal. This is an option if you are an experienced counselor and unable to attend formal training for your District and you have the approval of your Local Coordinator.
  • NOTE: The National Tax Training Committee (NTTC) has annotated the IRS Pub 4491, and totally replaced the Education Credit section. This version should be used for learning tax law.
  • Please use the TaxSlayer Practice Lab (https://vita.taxslayerpro.com/IRSTraining/) to work exercises for learning, certification, and qualification. If you’re not familiar with TaxSlayer, watch the videos on the Practice Lab.

IRS Certification:

  • Once comfortable with Tax Law, you need to pass the following certification tests with a score of at least 80%:
    1. Standards of Conduct (Pub 4961 – lessons and test),
    2. Intake/Interview and Quality Review (Pub 5101 – lessons and test)
    3. Advanced (Form 6744 – tests only but also tests for Standards of Conduct, Intake & QR, and HSA), and
    4. optionally (and preferably), the HSA certification (Pub 4942 – lessons and test) .
  • The certification test site is at https://www.linklearncertification.com. More details on logging on and getting started can be found here.
  • The Advanced learning track includes the Basic level material, so there’s no need to certify for Basic before certifying for Advanced. We do not certify for Military, International, Foreign Student or Puerto Rico.
  • Instructors must generally be certified by December 31st, counselors by January 31st but check with your Local Site Coordinator for your specific dates.
  • Please take the test on-line but you may use the test booklet (Pub 6744) to record your answers before actually taking the test on-line. It’s a good idea to do both the test and retest questions for each test exercise because the on-line test draws from both sets of questions at random. (It can also give a clue if you’re not sure of your answer in one of the sets of questions.)

Colorado Certification:

Similar to the IRS Certification, you must also pass a certification test to demonstrate knowledge of the Colorado tax law and forms.

Learning local site procedures and TaxSlayer software:

  • See your local District/Site leadership for specifics about the formal hands-on training (it may be on your District/Site page too).
  • For new counselors, there will be a training session which will focus on the AARP procedures, answering questions, an orientation to the TaxSlayer software and helping you get started with Certification and Qualification exercises.
  • The regular seasonal training will cover basics and parts may be optional for returning Counselors depending on your District. This training will focus on local procedures, tricks, gotchas, what-ifs, and fine tuning of learning during the Certification process.
  • Training slides and other resources are on the Training pages of this web site. They may or may not be used during training but are a good summary of the material and how to use TaxSlayer to enter the data.

Qualification exercises:

  • You will be given exercises that need to be completed to demonstrate your knowledge of tax law and your ability to use the software to properly prepare a return. The qualification exercises will use the training web site (https://vita.taxslayerpro.com/IRSTraining/) to prepare the exercises.
  • See your local District/Site leadership for specifics about which exercises you’ll need to complete (it may be on your District/Site page too).
  • You will be assigned someone to Quality Review your prepared return.
  • You must generally complete all of these exercises by January 31st but check with your Local Site Coordinator for your specific date.