1. Follow the Quality Site Requirements (QSR).
All taxpayers using the services offered through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs should be confident they are receiving accurate return preparation and quality service. The purpose of QSR is to ensure VITA/TCE sites are using consistent site operating procedures that will ultimately assist with the accuracy of volunteer prepared returns.
“Free” means we do not accept compensation for our services. Therefore, we do not want to confuse the taxpayer by asking for donations. A client may offer payment, but always refuse with a smile and say something like, “Thank you, but we cannot accept payment for our services.” If someone insists, recommend cookies or donuts for the site. Taxpayers can make cash donations but not at the tax site. Refer taxpayers who are interested in making cash donations to the appropriate website or to the site manager for more information.
3. Not solicit business from taxpayer you assist or use the knowledge you gained (their information) about them for any direct or indirect personal benefit for you or any other specific individual.
You must properly use and safeguard taxpayers’ personal information. Furthermore, you may not use confidential or nonpublic information to engage in financial transactions, and you cannot allow its improper use to further your own or another person’s private interests.
Volunteers must keep taxpayer and tax return information confidential. You may discuss information with other volunteers at the site, but only for purposes of preparing the return. You must not use taxpayer information for your personal or business use.
There will be some instances when taxpayers will allow their personal information to be used other than for return preparation. Under Internal Revenue Code § 7216, all volunteer sites using or disclosing taxpayer data for purposes other than current, prior, or subsequent year tax return preparation must secure the taxpayer’s consent to use and disclose the data.
Trust in the IRS and the local sponsoring organization is jeopardized when ethical standards are not followed. Fraudulent returns can result in many years of taxpayer interaction with the IRS. The taxpayer may be required to pay additional tax plus interest and penalties, which can result in an extreme burden. In addition, the SPEC partner may be held financially liable for the fraudulent actions of its volunteers.
5. Not engage in criminal, infamous, dishonest, notoriously disgraceful conduct, or any other conduct deemed to have a negative effect on the VITA/TCE programs.
You may be prohibited from participating in the VITA/TCE programs if you engage (past and future) in criminal, infamous, dishonest, or notoriously disgraceful conduct, or any other conduct prejudicial to the government. You also must take care to avoid interactions that discredit the program.
Allowing an unauthorized alien to volunteer at a VITA and TCE site is prohibited. An unauthorized alien is defined as an alien not lawfully admitted in the United States. All volunteers participating in the VITA/TCE programs must reside in the United States legally.
If you have information indicating that another volunteer has engaged in criminal conduct or violated any of the Volunteer Standards of Conduct, immediately report such information to your partner, email IRS at WI.VolTax@irs.gov, or call 1-877-330-1205.
To protect the public interest, the IRS and its employees, partners, and volunteers must maintain the confidence and esteem of the people we serve. You are expected to conduct yourself professionally in a courteous, businesslike, and diplomatic manner.