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Standards of Conduct. All AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Volunteers 2013–2014. Volunteer Requirements. All volunteers must sign Form 13615, stating they will comply with the Quality Site Requirements (QSR) and uphold the highest ethical standards.

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Standards of conduct

Standards of Conduct

All AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Volunteers 2013–2014

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


Volunteer requirements

Volunteer Requirements

  • All volunteers must sign Form 13615, stating they will comply with the Quality Site Requirements (QSR) and uphold the highest ethical standards.

  • All volunteers must complete the Volunteer Standards of Conduct (VSC) Training and pass a competency test with a score of 80% or higher.

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


This briefing will provide

This Briefing will Provide

  • An explanation of the six Volunteer Standards of Conduct

  • Information on how to report possible violations

  • Consequences of failure to adhere to the program requirements

  • Examples of situations that raise questions on ethical behavior

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


Standards of conduct1

Standards of Conduct

  • All volunteers face ethical issues, which arise in unexpected situations which require quick decisions and good judgment.

  • The Volunteer Standards of Conduct were developed specifically for free tax preparation operations.

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


Quality site requirements

Quality Site Requirements

  • All taxpayers using our services should be confident they are receiving consistent and quality service.

  • Thus the QSR’s were developed to ensure operating procedures that will ultimately assist in this effort.

  • Available in Pub 4961

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


Unethical defined

Unethical Defined

  • IRS defines unethical as not conforming to agreed standards of moral conduct, especially within a particular profession

  • In most cases, unethical behavior disregards the established laws, procedures, or set policies

  • An error or omission that was unknown is not considered an unethical action

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


Volunteer standards of conduct

Volunteer Standards of Conduct

#1: Follow the Quality Site Requirements

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


What you need to know

What You Need to Know

  • QSR #1

  • Volunteer Certification

  • TRC oversees the volunteer certification process and ensures that names of certified are submitted.

  • TRC to notify LC and DC of volunteers completing certification.

  • Volunteer is assigned to site and ADS notified for VMIS update, notification to IRS and the Tax-Aide National Office

  • All volunteers must complete Volunteer Standards of Conduct training and pass the test (VSC) (Pub 4961)

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


What you need to know1

What You Need to Know

  • QSR #2 - Intake and Interview Process

    • Must use current year Form 13614-C – Interview Intake & Quality Review Sheet for every taxpayer

    • Taxpayer interview key to process

    • Verify that all responses in the Intake sheet are accounted for in the tax return

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


What you need to know2

What You Need to Know

QSR #3

Quality Review Process

QR must be in front of taxpayer

Fully review and account for all pages of Client Intake Form

QR should ask “probing questions” not just verify name and numbers

100% Quality Review by 2nd counselor

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


What you need to know3

What You Need to know

QSR #4

Reference Material

IRS Pubs 17 and 4012

Appropriate State Tax Instructions

IRS Intake/Interview and Quality Review Sheet for every return prepared

Volunteer Tax Alerts

Have required IRS material available (paper or electronic)

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


What you need to know4

What You Need to Know

QSR #5

Volunteer Agreement

Must pass Volunteer Standards of Conduct test

Must agree to the IRS Standards of Conduct

Must also agree to abide by the program’s Standards of Professionalism

Volunteer Agreement must be signedby the volunteer and the instructor or local coordinator

All volunteers must sign the Volunteer Agreement Form 13615

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


Volunteer standards of conduct1

Volunteer Standards of Conduct

All volunteers must sign the Volunteer Agreement Form 13615 – critical text below

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


Standards of conduct

Form 13615, Page 2

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


What you need to know5

What You Need to Know

QSR #6

Timely Filing of Tax Returns

Taxpayer and spouse signed 8879 provides authorization to e-file return

Any rejects should be resolved in a timely manner (usually within 3 days)

Must have process to ensure e-file returns filed in a timely manner

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


What you need to know6

What You Need to Know

QSR #7

Title VI

Sites must provide information to taxpayers regarding their Civil Rights

New Language on AARP Poster (D143)

*trash old posters!

Must display at “first point of contact between volunteer and taxpayer.”

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


What you need to know7

What You Need to Know

QSR #8

Correct Site Identification Number

Correct Site Identification Number (SIDN) must be reported on all returns.

Bottom – Main Information Worksheet

Local Coordinator Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


What you need to know8

What You Need to Know

QSR #9

Correct Electronic Filing Identification Number

Correct Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN) must be reported on all returns

Local Coordinator Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


What you need to know9

What You Need to Know

  • QSR # 10 – Security, Privacy, Confidentiality

    • Proper identification of Taxpayer – LC/SL approval required for exemptions, should be very rare (know 1st/last names)

    • Taxpayer presents SS card or Tax ID #

      • Alternatives

        • Other documents issued by SS (medicare card w suffice A)

        • ID, all docs with same SSN, and last year’s return; or

        • ID, all docs with same SSN, and Carry forward

        • Interim Taxpayer ID # (ITIN)

    • Confidentiality of Data from Taxpayer – including NO part of any tax and/or information forms retained by volunteers

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


Volunteer standards of conduct2

Volunteer Standards of Conduct

#1: Follow the Quality Site Requirements

#2: Never accept payment or solicit donations for federal or state tax return preparation

#3: Never solicit business for self or others

#4: Not knowingly prepare a false return

#5: Not engage in any criminal or any conduct deemed to have a negative effect on the program

#6: Treat all taxpayers in a professional, courteous and respectful manner

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


Volunteer standards of conduct3

Volunteer Standards of Conduct

  • Most are self evident, easy to follow except last one

  • Increase pressure to adhere

  • NTTC concerned with refusal and work around processes to not comply with same sex returns

  • Resignation mandatory but not desired

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


2 free means free example

#2 “Free” means free - Example

  • Donation or tip jars are a violation of this standard.

  • If asked, say something like, “Thank you, but we cannot accept payment for our services.”

  • If someone persists, recommend cookies or donuts for the site.

  • Taxpayers can make donations, directly to AARP Tax Foundation

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


3 soliciting business example

#3 Soliciting Business - Example

  • You are the site’s Greeter. Your daughter asks you to take candy orders at the site for her school fundraiser. You explain to her you cannot solicit personal business.

  • Volunteer says he could have refund deposited to his bank account and, when received, will contact taxpayer to give them their money;

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


4 false returns example

#4 False Returns - Example

  • A preparer told the taxpayer that cash income did not need to be reported. The return was completed without the cash income. The QR person misses this omission and the return is printed, signed, and e-filed. The volunteer has violated this standard.

  • However, since the Quality Reviewer did not knowingly allow this return to be e-filed incorrectly, the QR’er did not violate this standard.

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


5 improper conduct

#5 Improper Conduct

  • Volunteers may be prohibited from participating in the TCE program if they engage in criminal, infamous, dishonest, or notoriously disgraceful conduct

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


6 uniform courteous treatment

# 6 Uniform Courteous Treatment

  • You finish a difficult return for a TP who owes the IRS about $50. After you carefully explain the return, they sputter, “You don’t know what you’re doing. I always get a refund! My neighbor is self-employed and she got $1,900 back.”

  • In this situation, take a deep breath and courteously explain that every return is different. If necessary, involve the SL/LC.

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


Improvement opportunities

Improvement Opportunities

  • TIGTA Reviews – Treasury Inspector General Tax Administration reviewers presence is unknown as reviews are conducted by Auditors who pose as a taxpayer.

  • SPEC Shopping Reviews – Stakeholder, Partnership Education & Communication Reviewers presence is unknown as analysts perform shopping reviews as a taxpayer.

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


Improvement opportunities1

Improvement Opportunities

  • SPEC QSS Reviews – Reviewers presence is known. Quality Statistical Sample reviews are conducted by SPEC Quality Program Office (QPO) analysts who randomly select tax returns for review that have been prepared at a volunteer site after asking the taxpayer’s permission. QSS review results determine the official accuracy rates for returns prepared at VITA/TCE sites.

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


Improvement opportunities2

Improvement Opportunities

  • SPEC Field Site Visits (FSV) – Reviewers presence is known. Field Site Visits are conducted by local SPEC tax consultants. They assess the extent to which volunteers adhere to the intake/interview and quality review process by observing site operations without reviewing tax returns

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


Questions comments

QUESTIONS/COMMENTS?

Volunteer/Site Policies and Procedures 2013-2014


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