The Why: When I found out last Summer (2018) that our town was at about 100,000 in population but I had done only 700+ tax returns, I knew there were tons and tons of more people we could help. Problem is, the number I can help depends on how many volunteers I have and how many hours the volunteers can work. I had a phenomenal volunteer last year who, in April, on the day I asked I asked if she would be a co-coordinator so I can open the site one extra day, she told me she was pregnant and due in January and wouldn't be able to volunteer. Bummer. So I thought of how I could utilize her because she LOVES VITA as much as I do and was going to miss it, but couldn't come in--then I thought of doing a VALET service. When to do it? We were open every weeknight, but Tuesday, and all day Saturday--so I thought I would try it Tuesdays, during the day to see how it would go--figure out best procedures, etc.
Was it successful? Did you experience any challenges? I would say it was successful in that we didn't get word out until mid February that we were doing it--we had 27 people participate and loved the service; I would have preferred more, but besides the one article in the local paper it wasn't advertised anywhere. Next year I will advertise more and earlier, and provide the service on other days that we are open.
How it worked:
From UW Cincinnati--their procedures
IRS Consent to Leave documents Form
For information on how I am starting a program at a high school and a college.. click the link below.
Scanners for VALET program: On the Vita Listserv a question about what scanners were being used, which ones were recommended and which we should stay away from came up. Here are the results of that discussion:
1. From VITA Loveland Inc. We have been using ScanSnap iX500 scanners for the past few years with no complaints. They’re fast and the file-saving interface is quite good.
2. UW Tuscon: We use Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i scanners. Highly recommend. They're portable, fairly rugged, capable of duplex (front/back) scanning, and extremely user-friendly (one button: "scan"). You can take a look at our Valet VITA Toolkit here, which provides more information about the Valet VITA process, including configuration of the ScanSnap software
3. I’ve been using Fujitsu scanners (the fi-6130Z model) for a number of years. I noticed Fujitsu scanners used at doctor’s offices and hospital intake areas. All speak of their reliability. What’s important to me is scanners
that feed multiple sheets; so no flatbed scanners
the ability to save file as a PDF
4. From Community Taxaid: For our program last year, we set up to scan directly into a secure Google Drive with each scanned document being password protected.
We used multifunction printers: Brother MCFL-2750DW
5. I like the Brother Multi Function printer/scanner/copiers but make sure you check to confirm that firmware is up-gradable and for how long. This may not be an issue YET for VITA but will be in the future. It is also a REALLY good idea and will probably become increasingly important for security reasons to find a device that will scan directly to where you want it to scan ie say scan to TSO, or scan to a specific Dropbox, or....where ever.
With the volume at your site you really want some thing that has a feeder tray that works NOT a single sheet feeder. Drivers license & ss cards are more easily scanned by placing them in a sheet protector - they are even often readable using this method.
I'm using a Brother MFC 2700DW BUT honestly don't know about its viability going forward in regards to the firmware up-gradability and the resulting security issues.
AND I have not been able to figure out how to scan directly to TSO or a Dropbox link as I can with some of the singe sheet feeders- which makes my Brother a potential security issue.
You can contact me at email@example.com
Please note: I, Mary Meador, AM NOT a certified accountant or tax law expert. I volunteer with VITA providing free tax preparation for individuals and families whose income is less than $66,000 a year. We deal with simple returns at our sites. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of all the information on this site as tax laws change and I may not have a clear understanding of complicated issues. I am trying to provide basic tax preparation information for our volunteers to get started--remember Publication 4012 is your go-to resource for questions, as well as irs.gov and Publication 17.