The purpose is to provide a self-study training syllabus for volunteers to learn the effective use of TaxSlayer® (IRS provided software tool) and the tax law in the IRS publications. This is intended to provide AARP Tax-Aide Counselor training outside of the traditional classroom.
1. For many new volunteers, TaxSlayer can be a self-paced, user intuitive experience. For these self-starters, self-study allows them to work more on their own and free them of some of the normal classroom time. This can be effective for those with day jobs or other time commitments. Additionally, this syllabus can be used as a small group learning tool for the rural and small sized communities where Tax-Aide prepares taxes. The syllabus is a framework of learning activities that can be adjusted for the needs of local AARP Tax-Aide organizations.
2. The syllabus is a framework of learning activities that can be adjusted for the needs of local AARP Tax-Aide organizations. The local site and district leadership normally determines their specific training needs and may wish to mix or complement self-learning with other learning activities.
3. In the syllabus the self-study student is introduced to IRS and Tax-Aide learning resources including IRS.gov. TaxSlayer experience is incorporated early in the process. Generally, for each lesson:
a. Students start by creating an assigned return from the 2016 NTTC Workbook in TaxSlayer. Pub 4012 and the TaxSlayer videos show self-study students how to input into the software. Mentors can demonstrate TaxSlayer, then they should encouraged the student take the reins.
b. Along with inputting tax forms into TaxSlayer students are directed to read and study the tax law in several ways:
i. IRS’ Link and Learn e-learning activities provide learning methods to study tax law.
ii. Lessons in Publication 4491 VITA/TCE Training Guide provide tax law description along with examples, tips, and short exercises.
c. There is special attention to Affordable Care Act. Students study the tax law in Publication 4491 Lesson 3 and work through seven exercises in Publication 5157-A VITA/TCE Affordable Care Act - Taxpayer Scenarios entering the Health Insurance Section in TaxSlayer. This is followed by inputting into the 2016 Workbook selected returns.
d. Self-study Interactive Exercises provide five “what-if” scenarios where students will change the initial exercise and require further in-depth look and analysis of tax consequences.
e. The Quizzes in the NTTC Workbook should be used by the assigned Mentor and/or Local Coordinators. The answer to each quiz question should include a specific citation of where in the tax law the answer is found (usually a page or paragraph in Publications 4012 or 4491 or 17).
f. The Self-study Matrix is a spreadsheet that cross references lessons with IRS, TaxSlayer, and AARP Tax-Aide documents.