Live Updates (ARCHIVE)
Things may change throughout the tax season. Critical updates will be sent to all volunteers by email, but be sure to check back here periodically to see what’s new or has changed. You can also sign up to receive the latest updates via email here. Updates will appear in descending order, with the most recent updates on top.
4/7/22: Season Wrap up and Sign up for Summer Camp!
Tax season is almost over! Scan & Go and Virtual Intake have both finished for the season, capping the number of virtual returns in Zendesk. Please double down on finishing any remaining returns in Zendesk before the deadline. Remember that April 18 is the last day to file 2018 returns, so please prioritize these returns.
All in person tax sites will close after April 18th. Help Desk will also no longer be available on its regular schedule after April 18th. Beginning April 20th, the CASH Office will transition to offseason hours (Monday – Friday, 9AM-5PM). Any virtual volunteers not participating in Tax Summer Camp this year should return all of their loaned equipment (laptop, mouse, charger, external monitor) by April 29. Volunteers can return their equipment to the CASH Office at 1010 SE Stark St. Monday – Friday, 9AM-5PM beginning April 20th. Tax Summer Camp will begin April 29 and will include both an in person and a virtual component. Volunteers participating in virtual summer camp should hold on to their laptops.
We will be holding in person tax preparation every Friday beginning April 29 until September 30 (depending on volunteer and taxpayer interest) at the CASH Office at 1010 SE Stark St. There will be up to 6 Preparer and 2 QR slots for each shift, 9AM-1PM and 1PM-5PM. Sign up for in person tax summer camp here! Please sign up at least 15 days before your shift so that we can post taxpayer appointments in a timely manner. We also have space for substitutes in case volunteers need to cancel within the 15 days of their shift.
We will be reopening the virtual intake form on April 29. We will not be reopening Scan & Go during Summer Camp, but DHS, El Centro Cultural, libraries, and other organizations may continue assisting taxpayers with scanning their own documents. Virtual Tax Prep and QR will operate like normal, but Help Desk will not have a formal schedule and will be staffed as volunteers and CASH staff are available. Volunteers and taxpayers are encouraged to leave voicemails for Help Desk. We will also schedule in person workshops for volunteers to come together to work on virtual tax returns together (details TBD). Please use this signup sheet to sign up to be a virtual tax summer camper and estimate your volunteer capacity so we can estimate how many virtual submissions to accept. Volunteer accounts (Email, Zendesk, Aircall, TaxSlayer, etc.) will be deactivated on April 29 for anyone not signed up for Summer Camp.
4/7/22: Tax Time Allies OOS Referral No Longer Available
The Tax Time Allies referral service for non-AGI Out of Scope returns is booked for the rest of the season. We no longer have a free referral program for taxpayers who have an out of scope return. For OOS taxpayers, refer them to a paid preparer. The IRS has published tips on selecting a reputable professional tax preparer. Oregon also requires that all paid tax preparers be licensed by the state. Taxpayers can visit the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners website and use the “Licensee Lookup” tool to verify a preparer is licensed.
4/7/22: Remember to “Follow” tickets in Zendesk!
Following a ticket is a great way to see feedback on any changes a Quality Reviewer makes to a return you worked on. More importantly, following a ticket will make sure you receive an email alert whenever an update has been made to a ticket you follow. This can be crucial if a taxpayer emails to ask a question about a return that has already been filed. Their email response will trigger an email to followers. If noone is following the ticket, noone will see the taxpayer’s email unless they check the ticket, which is unlikely for tickets for tax returns that have already been filed and accepted.
4/7/22: Remember: Retirement Savings Contribution Credit
Always remember to ask taxpayers if they made any retirement contributions during the tax year, as they may be eligible for the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit. Taxpayers can also make contributions for 2021 up until the April 18 filing deadline. For some taxpayers that will have a balance due on their return, it may be beneficial to them to make a retirement account contribution for the 2021 year. Depending on their AGI, the size of the contribution, and they amount they will owe, this contribution could reduce or even eliminate any balance they have due. Taxpayers will prefer paying into their retirement savings rather than paying the IRS! For more info, check out this guide on the credit from the IRS or page G-15 in IRS Pub 4012.
4/7/22: Online Tool for Looking up 1099-G for Tax Refund
If a taxpayer itemized on their federal return in the previous year, they should receive a form 1099-G for the amount of refunds, credits, or other offsets of personal income, statewide transit individual, tri-met transit self-employment, or lane transit self-employment tax during the previous year. If you claimed the standard deduction on your federal return and did not itemize you will not have a 1099-G. If a taxpayer lost or did not receive their 1099-G, you can use an online “View My 1099-G” tool on the Oregon Department of Revenue website.
3/29/22: Guide on PTO Payments Issued on 1099-NEC
Many individuals working as in-home caregivers and receiving Medicaid Waiver payments on a W-2 may be members of SEIU 503’s Homecare Workers Union. Union members are able to access Paid Time Off (PTO) as a benefit of employment as a homecare worker. This benefit is actually paid as monetary compensation distributed by Carewell SEIU 503, a 501(c)(9) trust established by SEIU 503. The trust has been reporting this compensation on a 1099-NEC rather than a W-2.
The following guide explains how to enter these payments into TaxSlayer according to IRS SPEC and can be found on the volunteer role resource pages.
3/24/22: EITC and CTC Charts
We’ve added a document that includes two charts from the Tax Policy Center that outline the new amounts for the EITC and CTC based on income and number of qualifying dependents. You can use these charts to yourself or a taxpayer understand the new credit amounts and how their income and dependents affect the credit amount. This document can be found below and on the volunteer resource pages.
3/24/22: Always Answer EIP Question(s) in TaxSlayer
Always be sure to answer the question “Did you or anyone claimed on this return receive a stimulus payment during the third round of payments (distributed in 2021)?” in TaxSlayer, which can be found in Federal Section > COVID-19 Relief > Recovery Rebate Credit. If this question is not answered, TaxSlayer will assume the taxpayer is not eligible for EIP3 and therefore does not award any amount for the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2021 tax return. However, TaxSlayer will also not subtract the $1400 EIP3 from the Oregon Federal Income Tax Liability Subtraction on the Oregon return.
While many Oregon legislators discussed changing this last year, they demurred. As a result, the EIP/RRC will likely increase the Oregon income tax liability for many taxpayers. Answering the Recovery Rebate Credit question will ensure that the taxpayer’s total federal tax liability is calculated correctly, therefore ensuring the Oregon federal income tax subtraction is calculated correctly. For more information on how the Economic Impact Payments and the Recovery Rebate Credit impact the Oregon tax return, review this guide from Oregon Department of Revenue.
3/15/22: Help Desk – Assisting Taxpayers with Confirming or Changing Appointments
While on Help Desk, you may receive calls from taxpayers looking to confirm or change their appointments. Unfortunately, Help Desk is of limited help with these requests.
To Confirm an Existing Appointment
- IF you have access to the tax site’s Google Calendar, you can verify the taxpayer’s appointment. Be sure to look at the site’s Tax Site calendar and not the QR/Sign appointment (unless it is a re-scan, signing, or paper file appointment).
- Direct the taxpayer to check their confirmation email that they should have received when they set up their appointment.
- Direct the taxpayer to call/connect the call to the CASH Office at 1010 SE Stark at 503-676-3328. This line will be staffed Weds.-Sun.
To Change an Appointment
- DO NOT change the appointment on Google Calendar. The scheduling software will re-write the original appointment time.
- Direct the taxpayer to check their confirmation email that they should have received when they set up their appointment. This email has a link to change or cancel an appointment.
- Direct the taxpayer to call/connect the call to the CASH Office at 1010 SE Stark at 503-676-3328. This line will be staffed Weds.-Sun.
3/15/22: Resource for Taxpayers That Need More Time To Pay
If a taxpayer’s amount owed is higher than expected and/or a taxpayer is unable to pay the amount in full, use the new Need More Time to Pay document to either send to the taxpayer or use to counsel the taxpayer on how to set up a payment plan with the IRS and ODR. This document can be found in the Virtual QR and In Person Tax Prep and QR pages.
3/15/22: AGI Calculator
If you suspect a tax return may be out of scope (or close to OOS) due to income, you can use this calculator to calculate the Adjusted Gross Income. Be sure to change the calculator to TY2021 (or whichever tax year the return is for). The estimated AGI can be found under the Adjustments to Income section. Use the taxpayer’s documents to complete the top part of the calculator to estimate the taxpayer’s AGI. If the AGI is still close to the limit, you may need to actually prepare the return to see if it is in scope and able to be filed.
Remember, even though we tell taxpayers that their household income cannot exceed $57,500, the metric that we actually track for income scope is Adjusted Gross Income. AGI is a complicated measure that most taxpayers likely will not fully comprehend or be able to calculate, which is why we tell taxpayers to use their household income to self-screen up front. The AGI limit is established by the IRS and is tied to the maximum AGI allowed to claim the EITC. However, unlike with the EITC, the AGI limit does not depend on filing status or number of dependents. The $57,500 AGI cap applies to all taxpayers regardless of filing status or number of dependents. If you believe a return is out of scope due to the AGI limit or any other reason, always call the Help Desk or a Site Coordinator to confirm.
You can find the AGI calculator on the volunteer resource pages and in the Scan & Go Intake Tool.
3/15/22: First Edition of CASH Volunteer Newsletter
The inaugural edition of Tax Talk: The CASH Oregon Newsletter was released today! If you did not receive it, be sure to check your Spam or Promotions folder and move the message to your Primary/Inbox folder. You can also add the sender to your list of approved senders if you have one.
If you did not receive a copy of the newsletter, you can view the newsletter here. You can also send an email to Madeleine Banks (firstname.lastname@example.org) to add your name to the recipients list.
We’ll aim to send out a new edition every two weeks to keep volunteers updated our your impact on the community!
3/7/22: Default PDF Viewer and Potential SignRequest Fix
On Friday, 3/4/22, we installed the Adobe Acrobat Chrome extension on all volunteer Chromebooks. This update makes Adobe the default PDF viewer on the Chromebooks. The reason for this change is to hopefully fix an issue that many Quality Reviewers have been experiencing with blank copies of tax returns appearing in SignRequest. In order to create a “flat” PDF that SignRequest will read correctly, follow these steps:
- Open the PDF. It should default to the Adobe viewer in Chrome.
- Click on the 3 dots.
- Click on Print.
- Change to Save as PDF and check the box that says “Print as image” or “Print PDF as image” (should be only checkbox option).
- Save the tax return in your downloads folder using the name “[Taxpayer name]_[Tax year] Tax Return.”
- Open up SignRequest and prepare the document. You should be able to see the details of the return.
We believe this process will fix the issue of volunteers (and some taxpayers) seeing a blank tax return in SignRequest. Because the problem is intermittent, it’s difficult to say whether or not this is an effective fix. If you have been experiencing the issue with SignRequest, try out these steps. If you are still seeing a blank tax return in SignRequest, email Jeff Lauck and we will continue to work on troubleshooting this issue.
3/7/22: Prior Year Return No Longer Acceptable for Proof of SSN or ITIN
After a discussion with our SPEC contact with the IRS, we can no longer accept prior year returns prepared at a VITA or TCE/AARP site as proof/documentation of an SSN (or ITIN) for our virtual tax preparation option per IRS guidelines. The only acceptable forms of SSN/ITIN validation are a SSN/ITIN card/letter, a document from the Social Security Administration, or a photo/scan of one of these documents. Site Coordinators at physical sites are able to waive the requirement for proof of SSN/ITIN for “taxpayers known to the site” (for more information, see IRS Pub 4299). The Client Facilitator Training materials have been updated to reflect this change.
For taxpayers who have lost their SS cards, they can apply for a replacement online or fill out a paper form and mail it to or visit their local SSA office. More info below:
From SSA: Social Security Number and Card
If a taxpayer has lost their ITIN letter or card, they will need to call the IRS (800-829-1040), verify their identity over the phone, and request a new letter be sent to them via mail. If the IRS cannot/does not send a new letter, it may be because the ITIN has expired. If the taxpayer still remembers their ITIN (or we can look it up on a prior return) we can usually determine if an ITIN is expired or not prior to contacting the IRS. For help with this, please contact the CASH ITIN Specialist, Russena Rosales (email@example.com, on Aircall, or via the ITIN hotline at 844-972-1467).
2/21/22: What Information Can and Cannot be Accepted Over the Phone Updated to include Form 1098
The What Information Can and Cannot be Accepted Over the Phone guide has been updated to add Form 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement to the list of items that can be accepted over the phone. However, as with all documents that can be accepted over the phone, it’s always best to be able to see the actual document whenever possible. This year, with the ease of being able to have a taxpayer send in documents via emails as replies to Zendesk Public Replies, always try to get the taxpayer to send in a scan or picture of the document whenever possible, even if it is information that can be taken over the phone. If walking the taxpayer through scanning or taking a photo of the document and attaching it to an email or a taxpayer would need to go to a library or other location to scan the item, then it is fine to take the information over the phone if it is a document/information that can in fact be taken over the phone per the What Information Can and Cannot be Accepted Over the Phone guide.
2/21/22: Remember to check 2019 income for Earned Income Credit
For both TY 2020 and TY 2021, taxpayers can elect to use their 2019 earned income in order to calculate their earned income tax credit (EITC) amount if their 2019 earned income was higher than the year they are filing. The idea behind this is that many taxpayers lost their jobs or otherwise saw a reduction in their earned income as a result of the pandemic and therefore would see a loss in EITC. This special provision helps prevent taxpayers from losing out on the EITC if they lost their job or income due to the pandemic.
In order to use this benefit, go to TaxSlayer > Basic Information > Personal Information > “Taxpayer wishes to elect to use their 2019 earned income to figure their 2021 earned income credit and/or child tax credit.” Use the designation “COVID19,” then enter their 2019 earned income under “2019 Earned income for Disaster Victims.” In many cases, this could be a significant benefit for taxpayers, for both 2021 and 2020. TaxSlayer will automatically calculate whether the 2019 or 2020/2021 earned income results in a better “deal” for the taxpayer and choose the best option to calculate the EITC.
In order to calculate 2019 earned income, you’ll usually need a copy of the taxpayers’ 2019 tax return, which we do not ask for on the virtual intake form and many taxpayers may not have a copy of readily accessible anyway. Before going to the trouble of tracking down or calculating the 2019 earned income, it’s best to see if it is even possible for this information to be beneficial for the taxpayer.
First, see if the taxpayer’s 2021 (0r 2020 if preparing a 2020 return) EITC is maxed out. If the taxpayer is already receiving the maximum credit, there is no potential benefit in using the 2019 earned income. The 2020 and 2021 EITC tables can be found here on the IRS website and the maximum EITC credit amounts for 2021 are below:
- No qualifying children: $1,502
- 1 qualifying child: $3,618
- 2 qualifying children: $5,980
- 3 or more qualifying children: $6,728
Second, ask the taxpayer if their earned income went down between 2019 and 2021 (or 2020 if preparing a 2020 return). More simply, you can ask the taxpayer if they lost their job or otherwise made less money during the pandemic compared to before. If the taxpayer’s income stayed the same or went up, they will not benefit from using their 2019 earned income to calculate EITC. They can only take advantage of this provision if their 2019 earned income was more than their 2020 or 2021 earned income.
If the taxpayer’s EITC is not already maxed out AND their 2019 earned income was higher, then it may be worth it to try and track down their 2019 earned income amount. If you are working on a 2021 return and find cases where the taxpayer would have benefitted from this provision for their 2020 return and did not use it, it may be beneficial to prepare a 2020 amended return for them as well. Call the Help Desk (503-437-9067) for assistance with amended returns or tracking down 2019 earned income if needed.
2/18/22: Intake Specialist Training Adjusted
We have slightly changed the process for how Intake Specialists will upload documents from Scan & Go taxpayers. Instead of creating a Zendesk ticket and uploading documents, Intake Specialists will use a new Intake Tool based on the Virtual Intake Form. This tool will help guide the intake interview, check for scope issues, upload documents, and automatically create a Zendesk ticket. With these changes, we have removed the original Intake Specialist Training video from the Intake Specialist page. Instead, please review the PDF of the Intake Tool that has replaced it. Additionally, we will do in person training with the intake tool on the computers and scanners at each site prior to the first appointments.
2/18/22: Handouts and Info on Portland Arts, MultCo Business Income, and TriMet Self-Employment Taxes
We’ve added two handouts to the volunteer role pages that may be helpful for certain taxpayers in the Portland metro area. These handouts cover the Portland Arts Tax (including a new flow chart on who needs to file), the Multnomah County Business Income Tax, and the TriMet Self-Employment tax. These handouts can also be found below. Feel free to send these handouts to taxpayers who have questions about these taxes.
2/18/22: Assisting Clients with ITINs
MFS CASH Oregon recently hired Russena Rosales as our an ITIN specialist. Russena will be assisting taxpayers that need to renew or apply for an ITIN, as well as volunteers working on returns for these taxpayers. Russena will be monitoring Zendesk for returns marked as ITIN in order to review whether an ITIN renewal or application is necessary, and help facilitate with that process if necessary. If you have questions about an ITIN return or need assistance, feel free to call Russena on Aircall or leave a message on the ITIN hotline (844-972-1467).
If you would like to learn more about ITINs or the different variations of Social Security Numbers, please check out the All About ITINs course syllabus at the bottom of the Returning Volunteer Training page. This course was recently updated with information about Social Security card variations and an ITIN renewal flow chart.
2/17/22: Training Addendum Updated
The Tax Preparer, QR, and Help Desk Training Addendum has been updated to clarify that you do not need to update the Site and Requester fields in Zendesk when first working on a return. The update consists of the following note on the last page:
The Tax Preparer Training video and slides instructed you to update the Requester field and the Site field by hand. After we switched to the virtual process where the taxpayer completes an online intake form, both of these fields will automatically update. During the intake interview, you can verify that the email address we have it accurate (it should be, as this is the email the taxpayer provided and the form asks the taxpayer to confirm the email address before submitting). To check (and edit) the email address, click on the user profile in the top right of the ticket
2/17/22: Tax Preparer Flow Chart Updates
The Tax Preparer Flow Chart has been updated in order to move changing the return status and submitting the ticket up in the process. Box 3 now includes changing the return status (previously Box 10) as well as submitting the ticket in order to save your work so far (taking the ticket and changing the return status) prior to diving into the documents themselves. This adjustment will hopefully reduce the likelihood that another volunteer takes a ticket while the first volunteer to get to it is still working on it. Remember to also not start working on tickets that have an eye icon on them, as other volunteers are in the ticket working on it themselves.
2/15/22: Spanish to English Tax Terms Guide
The English to Spanish Tax Terms guide has been added to each volunteer role page. You can use this guide to help communicate with Spanish speaking taxpayers via email. You can also use Google Translate.
2/15/22: Clarifications on IRS Letters Regarding EIP and Advance Child Tax Credit
The IRS should have sent out letters to all taxpayers that received Economic Impact Payments and Advance Child Tax Credit payments during 2021. However, there are some important (and confusing!) details about these letters that you should keep in mind when preparing returns. See below for information on all letters and notices from the IRS regarding these payments:
Economic Impact Payments
Notice 1444-C: The IRS sent this notice to taxpayers when they sent/deposited the third stimulus payment, usually in April 2021. The notice includes how much was paid during the third round of EIP.
Letter 6475: The IRS sent this notice to taxpayers in January 2022 and includes how much was paid during the third round of EIP for the taxpayer addressed in the letter. For married individuals filing a joint return, each spouse will receive their own letter showing half of the total amount.
What if taxpayers did not receive or lost both of these letters?
If taxpayers do not have either of these notices, the only way to see if they received their payments is via their bank account. Look for deposits from something like the IRS, Dept. Of Treas. or TREAS in the amount of $1400 per eligible individual in the household. If we prepare a return with the incorrect amount for the Recovery Rebate Credit, the IRS should correct the return before issuing a refund, but these corrections will substantially delay the processing of the return and the issuing of a refund.
Advance Child Tax Credit
Letter 6419: The IRS sent this letter to taxpayers In December 2021 and January 2022. The letter includes the amount the taxpayer received in Advance Child Tax Credit payments during the year. However, as with Letter 6475, you’ll need to add the amounts from both the taxpayer and spouse if they both received a letter and are filing jointly. Additionally, Letter 6419 may not be accurate for taxpayers who changed bank accounts or addresses between the November and December payment dates. Letter 6419 reflect amounts received through November, but only amounts sent for December. For the most up to date information on Advance Child Tax Credit payments (and for taxpayers who did not receive Letter 6419), you should rely on the total in the taxpayer’s Online Account.
All of the above information can be found in the Guide on IRS Letters Regarding EIP and Advance Child Tax Credit Payments, which has been added to the volunteer role resource pages.
2/9/22: Spanish Intake Form and Macros Now Available!
We are excited to announce that the virtual intake form and all Zendesk macros are now available in Spanish! The separate intake form can be found on the CASH website under the Free Tax Preparation page beneath the English intake form. You can view a PDF of the Spanish intake form below and on the Help Desk and Virtual QR and Tax Preparer pages. The PDF of the original English version has also been updated on these pages.
Additionally, you can now apply a macro in Spanish in order to send a taxpayer an email. Each macro now has a Spanish language copy that corresponds to the English version. Please be sure to select the correct macro, as there are now two copies of each to choose from. Each will indicate English or Spanish in the name of the macro. Remember to change from internal note (yellow background) to Public Reply (white background) before applying a macro.
2/7/22: Remember to Switch to Public Reply Before Sending Messages to Taxpayers
Zendesk has two different kinds of notes: Internal Notes and Public Replies. Internal notes are only visible to other volunteers in Zendesk. Public Replies will be sent to the taxpayer via email while also showing up in the Zendesk ticket feed. Zendesk defaults to internal notes, which have a yellowish background both while typing and in the ticket feed. Think of these yellow, internal notes as sticky notes: only you and other volunteers at the virtual (Zen)desk can see them. Public Replies have a white background both while typing and in the ticket feed and will have a visible “Public Reply To: [Taxpayer Name]” while typing. If you apply a macro or otherwise compose a message to a taxpayer using an internal note, the taxpayer will not receive it. In order to change to Public Reply, click on “Internal note,” then switch to Public Reply (see below for the 2 step process).
2/7/22: GEER Scholarships
You may encounter students with a Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) scholarship. They may also be marked as “eGrant.” These scholarships are funded by a CARES Act provision that allows higher education institutions to use certain funds allocated by the Department of Education to support students and higher education institutions with expenses and financial needs related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In many cases, students have been able to purchase laptops or other technology with these scholarships in order to allow them to participate in virtual classes. GEER scholarships are not considered taxable income and do not affect eligibility or eligible expenses for the American Opportunity Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit. However, GEER scholarships may or may not appear in Box 5 of a 1098-T.
If the GEER Scholarship is included in Box 5: Subtract the amount of the scholarship from the Box 5 amount prior to calculating eligibility or expenses for an education credit
If the GEER Scholarship is NOT included in Box 5: Use the Box 5 amount as is to calculate eligibility and expenses.
In order to identify GEER scholarships, their amounts, and whether it is included in 1098-T Box 5, you will need to refer to the student’s student account statement from their educational institution.
For more information, check out the IRS’s FAQ on Higher Education Emergency Grants.
All of this information can be found in the new GEER Scholarships How To guide that has been added to the Help Desk, Virtual QR, Virtual Preparer, and In Person Preparer and QR pages.
2/7/22: Minor Update to Tax Preparer Flow Chart
The Tax Preparer flow chart has been updated to remove instructions in Box 10 to update the Requestor field in Zendesk. This field will automatically be updated with the taxpayer’s information based on their name and email as they enter it on the virtual intake form.
2/4/22: Avoid Using Aircall Texting Feature
While all of our phone lines include texting capability this year, please do not initiate text communications with taxpayers. Inbound text messages from taxpayers work like inbound calls, without the ability to use the extension feature. This means that inbound text messages are sent to all Aircall users assigned to the phone line. This causes confusion when only a few volunteers are using the texting feature, and would be outright chaotic if all volunteers texted their taxpayers. Additionally, Aircall text messages do not allow sending images. In the event a taxpayer sends an inbound text message to the phone line, you can and should reply to the taxpayer and direct them to reply to the confirmation email they received when they completed the intake process, or the most recent Public Reply they received from a volunteer working on their return.
2/4/22: Always Call Help Desk with an Out of Scope Return
If you encounter a return that you believe is out of scope, either due to an AGI over $57,500 or otherwise, ALWAYS call the Help Desk for a consultation. Help Desk will verify that the return is out of scope, go over next steps, and offer to help you discuss the scope issue with the taxpayer. Additionally, for scope issues that do not relate to the income limit, Help Desk may be able to refer the taxpayer to free assistance with filing their return. This referral power is limited to Help Desk.
2/3/22: Remember to Delete Taxpayer Files Stored Locally on your Laptop
In order to keep taxpayer data safe, you should delete any taxpayer documents and data that you download from Zendesk once you are done. If you have been issued a Chromebook, deleting the files will permanently delete them. If you are using a PC laptop, you will need to delete the files and then empty your trash/recycle bin in order to permanently delete files.
2/3/22: How to Fix No Sound Issue When Connecting to External Display
If you have noticed that you cannot hear a call or other sound after connecting your Chromebook to an external display or monitor, watch this video for a quick fix. The video is also available on the new “Tech Support” section of the Volunteer Resource Page and each role’s resource page.
2/3/22: “Site” Field in Zendesk
Tracking which tax site a taxpayer visited to scan and upload their documents is important for tracking the traffic at each of our tax sites. For the time being, however, all taxpayers are originating from the virtual intake process on the CASH website. As a result, there is now a new option in the Site field in Zendesk called Virtual Intake. New virtual tickets will automatically update with this new site option. Once in person scan sites open for the season, there may once again be a need to update this field manually with the site information.
2/3/22: New Tech Support Form
If you are experiencing technical issues with your Chromebook, VPN, or any other hardware or software, you can now fill out this new form detailing the issue and how we can best get in contact with you. Responses will be monitored 7 days a week, 9AM-5PM. This form is designed for tech support, and not tax law or overall process questions. For tax law and process questions, please call the Help Desk at 503-437-9067 or call an available teammate in Aircall marked Help Desk. The form has been added to all of the virtual volunteer resource pages.
1/31/22: Using Extensions in Aircall
When instructing a taxpayer on how to call you back directly using an extension, please advise them to call the appropriate phone number (Tax Preparer, QR, Help Desk), then enter your extension (found in your Aircall name), then enter the pound sign. Previous instructions advised entering *[ext] when calling. This will not work. The phone messages and Zendesk macros have been updated to reflect using [ext] # rather than * [ext]. Additionally, you will need to use a 3 digit extension, not a 2 digit extension. For example, if your extension in Aircall is listed as 085, the taxpayer will need to type in 085# to reach you. Typing in *085, *85, or 85# will not work. CASH staff will work on updating all Aircall names to reflect the 3 digit extensions.
1/31/22: IRCO Now Called IRCO Language Hotline in Aircall
The IRCO phone bank is now called IRCO Language Hotline in Aircall. Last year, it had simply been called IRCO and since opening this year it had been called Language Hotline. Now you should be able to search for “IRCO” or “Language Hotline” and be able to find it while in a call or prior to making a call. The code to access IRCO’s services is still 2027.
1/31/22: Use Scroll Bar to See All Attachments in Zendesk
Taxpayers will be uploading a ton of documents, only some of which will fit on the Zendesk ticket at first glance. Fortunately, there is a horizontal scroll bar beneath the attachments that will allow you to scroll left and right to see the entire list of documents that were attached. This scroll bar is small and relatively easy to miss. You may need to hover over the attachments in order to see the scroll bar. Be sure to scroll all the way through all of the attachments to look for an item you believe is missing before contacting the taxpayer to get them to (re)send the item. See below for a screenshot of the scroll bar, underlined in blue:
1/28/22: PDF of Taxpayer Intake Form Available
We have added a PDF version of the Taxpayer Intake Form to the Help Desk, Virtual QR, and Virtual Tax Preparer pages. This form is not a fillable or real version of the intake form, but rather a view of what the client sees when they go page by page through the online form.
PDF of Virtual Intake Form: This is a PDF of the interactive intake form that taxpayers fill out in order to submit their documents into Zendesk.
1/28/22: Virtual Safety Training Video Updated
The Virtual Safety Training video and slides have been updated with information on the new VPN product and how to make sure the VPN is running. You can also watch the VPN Demo Video that focuses exclusively on the new VPN product. Remember to always make sure your VPN is running before volunteering.
1/28/22: New Weekly Snack Hour Option
To in order to be able to be open to as many volunteers as possible, we have added a second Snack Hour check in option on Fridays at 11:30AM in addition to Wednesdays at 5:30PM. The Zoom link will remain the same: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85693614733?pwd=RjhuRUtFelZGNnEwT1B3WHI1Znl6Zz09
1/27/22: New Video on Using SignRequest and Finishing the Return in Zendesk
A new video demonstrates how to generate a PDF copy of a tax return, use SignRequest to send the return to the taxpayer and have them sign it electronically, and finish off the return in Zendesk. This video is a must watch for all Quality Reviewers and has been added to the Additional Required Trainings section of the QR and Help Desk pages. You can also view the video below:
Watch: SignRequest and Finishing the Return in Zendesk (18:21) (Added 1/27/22 and covers how to use SignRequest instead of TaxSlayer Customer Portal)
1/27/22: New Guide for Tax Preparers on Conducting an Intake Interview over the Phone
As part of the pause on in person volunteering, ALL Tax Preparers MUST call the taxpayer to conduct an intake interview prior to starting the return in TaxSlayer. We have added a new document outlining important questions to ask as well as how to add important notes and intake sheet corrections into the ticket in Zendesk so that other volunteers can see. The guide has been added to the Virtual Tax Preparer resource page and can be found below.
1/26/22: New Video Demoing VPN
We have added a new video to the required training for all virtual volunteer. This video covers the installation and setup for the new VPN we will be using. Remember to make sure your VPN is working whenever you start up your volunteer laptop and before you start working in Zendesk or TaxSlayer.
Watch: VPN Demo Video (11:25)
1/26/22: Training Addendum Updated
The Training Addendum for Tax Preparers and Quality Reviewers was updated to include information on the Form 15080 Global Carry Forward consent form. This optional form found at the end of the 13614-C grants us permission to include the taxpayer’s information in the global carryforward program, allowing other VITA and TCE/AARP Tax-Aide sites to access this information and potentially improve the speed and accuracy of preparing their return in the future. This form is optional and can be sent to the taxpayer via a Zendesk Public Reply during the intake or quality review interview if the taxpayer did not sign it when they submitted their documents. The Training Addendum was also updated with an email address to contact if you need access to the Stark St. TaxSlayer EFIN to view last year’s returns.
1/26/22 Flow Chart and Training Update Notes
Some training materials and guides have been updated to reflect some of the changes that needed to be made as we transition to an entirely virtual model. The biggest changes are:
- Tax Preparers will need to call the taxpayer to conduct an intake interview (more guidance on this soon)
- QRs will no longer use the TaxSlayer Portal to obtain taxpayer signature. Instead, we’ll be using SignRequest again this year. Stay tuned for a brand new demo on using SignRequest coming soon!
See below for a few update notes on the updated Flow Charts and QR/Help Desk Training video.
Tax Preparer Flow Chart
- Box 4: Removed reference to intake questionnaire and added step to verify taxpayer signed Consent Form 14446.
- Box 11: Added step to conduct intake interview with taxpayer.
- Box 22: Crossed out instructions on how to set up an in-person scan appointment. In-person scanning will not be available during the pause for in-person activities. We hope to be able to offer this option later in the tax season.
- Box 24: Corrected macro to “Needs More Info – Tax Preparer.” Previous version incorrectly referenced the QR version of the macro.
- Misc.: Various grammar/spelling corrections and general clarifications.
Quality Reviewer Flow Chart
- Box 21: Crossed out instructions on how to set up an in-person scan appointment. In-person scanning will not be available during the pause for in-person activities. Moved note about telling taxpayer that you will send an email to them to Box 19.
- Box 37: Removed reference to TaxSlayer Customer Portal and switched to SignRequest. Due to TaxSlayer’s new Customer Portal being currently unstable and only available for 2021 returns, we have decided to switch back to using SignRequest to sign all returns.
- Box 37: Added arrow to Box 48 to cover scenario where taxpayer is not yet ready to sign return due to inaccuracy/incompleteness.
- Box 40: Removed reference to TaxSlayer Customer Portal and switched to SignRequest.
- Box 45: Crossed out instructions on how to set up an in-person signing appointment in circumstances where taxpayer does not need to paper file the return. In-person signing appointments will be limited to paper file returns and exceptional cases during the pause for in-person activities. We hope to be able to offer this option later in the tax season.
- Misc.: Various grammar/spelling corrections and general clarifications.
Quality Reviewer and Help Desk Training
- Removed slides on using TaxSlayer Customer Portal (10:32-11:44). A new video (coming soon!) will showcase how to use SignRequest to obtain a virtual signature on the return.
1/24/22: Virtual QR and Help Desk Training Updated
The Virtual QR and Help Desk Training video (and slides) have been updated to remove two slides that showed how to use the TaxSlayer Customer Portal. We had originally planned on using this new feature to send the finished tax return to taxpayers and have them sign the return. However, we have not been able to extensively test (or develop training materials) for this new software as it is still being updated and fixed by TaxSlayer. Additionally, this feature is only available for 2021 returns.
As a result, we will be using SignRequest again this year to send the final copies of the return to the taxpayer and have them sign the returns electronically. We will have a new SignRequest training available to view later this week. Stay tuned!
Quality Reviewers and Help Desk: If you already picked up your laptop, you should have received an email invite to your volunteer email to set up a SignRequest account. If you did not receive this invite or the invite did not work, contact Jeff Lauck. If you have not picked up your laptop yet, we will help you set up SignRequest when you stop by. Tax Preparers will not need SignRequest unless they are also serving as QRs or Help Desk.
1/24/22: Training Addendum for Virtual Tax Preparers, Quality Reviewers, and Help Desk
The following (short!) training addendum has been added to the Virtual Tax Preparer, Virtual QR, and Help Desk training curriculum. This short PDF outlines a few Zendesk and process updates that reflect items missed in original trainings and incorporated due to the change to the virtual intake process. Stay tuned for more updates as we fine tune the virtual process!
Read: Tax Preparer, QR, and Help Desk Training Addendum (Added 1/24/22 and covers important updates on new virtual process)