Frequently Asked Questions: VITA Volunteer Certification

Frequently Asked Questions: VITA Volunteer Certification

Can I use references to complete the test?

The test is open book and untimed.  You can use forms, instructions, and other reference material to take the test. Publication 4012 (Volunteer Resource Guide and Publication 17 will be the best reference material for you to successfully complete your test. You should complete the test on your own. It is a disservice to the taxpayers you assist if you gain assistance from others. There are study sessions available and you can always contact the VITA program staff if you need assistance or guidance.

What is the passing score for certification?

The passing score for the test for each course is 80%.

Can I complete the test online?

Yes, the certification is online at This enables you to submit your test electronically as well as save, print and sign your Volunteer Agreement. You are also able to save your test and continue working on it later. It is recommended that volunteers use the scenario information in the Form 6744 Test Book to answer all of the questions and prepare practice returns in the Practice Lab first, then log into the test at and enter your answers.

Please note: All Certification exams must be completed through the Link & Learn Certification website.

Does the Certification allow me to prepare taxes outside of the VITA program?

No, the VITA Certification is strictly limited to preparing returns for the VITA program. It does not certify you as a preparer for tax returns other than tax returns completed through VITA.

Do I have to take the Basic Exam before I take the Advanced Exam?

No, the Advanced Certification exam includes scenarios from the Basic Certification exam. You are able to complete just the Advanced Certification if you would like. However, it is recommended to some volunteers to complete the Basic Certification exam before completing the Advanced Certification if they would like extra practice.

What do I do when I pass my certification exam?

After you have successfully completed your certification exam, you will need to print or save a copy of your Volunteer Standards of Conduct Agreement (aka Volunteer Agreement). Please refer to the VITA Certification website to find out how. You will need to sign (or electronically sign) the Volunteer Agreement and give a copy to your Site Coordinator when you volunteer. Please submit your Volunteer Agreement to VITA program staff as well.

Can I sign the Volunteer Agreement electronically on Link & Learn website?

Yes. On the right hand of the screen, there is a checkbox to indicate that you would like to electronically sign your Volunteer Agreement.

What if I do not pass a test on my first attempt?

You are allowed a total of 2 attempts at certification for each test. The test questions are randomized from the pool of questions from the regular test and retest. The result is a different test on each attempt. The retest questions are re-worded versions of the regular test questions.

What if I do not complete or pass both certification attempts?

In this event, you can still volunteer with the VITA program. Please contact the VITA Program staff on how you can still be involved with the VITA Program.

What if I forget my password for the online test?

At the bottom of the online test login screen, click the “forgot your password” function to reset your password.  Be sure to enter your email address correctly during the registration process so that you can receive e-mail notifications about your login or password.

Will I be able to have both the Link & Learn Taxes test and the TaxSlayer Practice Lab open at the same time to go back & forth between screens?

Users can have both screens open but the online test will time-out if there is a period of inactivity.  It is recommended that volunteers use the scenario information in the Form 6744 Test Book to complete the returns in the Practice Lab first, then log into the test on and answer the test questions.

Do I have to take the certification exam every year?

Yes, because tax law changes every year, volunteers must complete the certification test every year that they wish to volunteer with VITA.

What tax year does the test use for answers to the questions?

For the Test Book and the online test, the answers will only be based on 2019 tax rates, deductions, and exemptions. There are links to 2019 tax forms, EIC and Tax tables, and Publication 4012, included in the online test.  This test will certify volunteers for the 2019 tax year.

Why is it important to use the Publication 4012, Volunteer Resource Guide for Tax Year 2019?

There are test questions that require you to research in Publication 4012, Volunteer Resource Guide for Tax Year 2019.  The 2019 Publication 4012 is available in your training materials.