Did you know... 

During the Middle Ages, European governments placed a tax on soap. It remained in effect for a very long time. Great Britain didn't repeal its soap tax until 1835(source)

2018 Tax Season Kick-Off
New Year, New You, New Ladder Up!

We have been busy this summer and fall, but we are eagerly getting ready for tax season, which is almost upon us! Please take a few minutes to catch up with us and learn about some of our important program changes! First and foremost, you might have noticed our face lift! Ladder Up decided it was time to shake things up and dust things off. Over the summer we refreshed ourselves, our website, and our volunteer platforms.

We are still under construction, but check out our new website here!

While we know change is hard, we also know how important it can be. In the name of progress we have migrated to a new volunteer platform. We have also created a new online E-Learning & Certification Center. When you complete your prerequisites you will be granted the permissions necessary to sign up for volunteer sessions. We made these changes in an effort to make your experience more seamless and timely. We hope that you will bear with us as we settle into this new system and work out the kinks. 

Additionally, we have revamped our training, creating a more consistent and thorough in-person lesson and adding more online learning components, including an expanded prerequisite course to be completed prior to in-person training. This will provide volunteers with a stronger knowledge base to complete the certification exam. 

We hope that our new online platforms and in-person training will provide you with the flexibility and basic knowledge that you need to have a fulfilling experience at a tax site. And, as always, we require that every volunteer attend at least three volunteer tax sessions. We consider this your on-the-job training!

These new resources are a great way for volunteers to prepare for their first tax sessions- which are fast-paced and intimidating! We will also have additional, optional lessons on various tax topics available online. We will continue to post these throughout the season- so stay tuned.  

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at volunteers@goladderup.org!


Anna Phelan
Volunteer Program Manager
New Volunteer Platforms 
(If you read nothing else,
please  read this!)

Sign Up for Training
Interim Director
Summer Session Numbers
Rep Your (Volunteer) Brand

That's right- you read it above. We have all new technology! 

We hope that you will find our new volunteer portal, learning management system and certification center intuitive, but we know that the transition might take some getting used to. 

Here are a few tips:

- If you volunteered in 2016 or 2017 Volunteer Matters should recognize your e-mail address. You will still need to create a new account. 

- You will be required to apply for global credentials upon registration which include the Volunteer Agreement, Photo Release, and the IRS/Ladder Up Prerequisites. 

- Once you apply for the credential you will be directed to our e-learning and certification center to begin your prerequisite course. These are required for all volunteers. Please complete your prerequisite course prior to training. You may not volunteer until this is complete. 

- Please note that you must pass the Volunteer Standards
of Conduct and Intake, Interview, & Quality Review quizzes  with  at  least 80%. If you fail you will have to contact the volunteer manager for a retest- so please complete the tests carefully.

This year we are not only starting training earlier, but we are also going to be ending training earlier. The beginning of the tax season can be quite hectic- in an effort to properly focus our efforts on providing our clients the best possible service we are ending our training season early. Sign up now to be prepared to hit the ground running January 27th when all sites open! Training will be available from December 9 through February 2, so don't wait!

Clients with Marketplace insurance, independent contractor, self-employment income, and sometimes pension income require an advanced preparer and reviewer. These are simple processes, but require that we train you on how to do them. Having enough advanced preparers at the site can mean the difference of hours of wait time for a client. 

Forbes reported that the self-employment rate is rapidly growing, and that freelancers now make up 35% of the work force. All signs point to this trend continuing. All the more need for advanced tax preparers!

Hint: To find training sessions, use the "Site" feature and look for "training". We will be adding limited suburban training sessions in the next week. 

Tax Sessions: Tax sessions will be posted in Volunteer Matters in the upcoming weeks. The first day of tax preparation will be January 22, 2018. 

Please note the following important site change. We apologize for any inconvenience, but hope that you will help us fill spots at our new sites!

Roberto Clemente High School Closed:
We are sad to announce that we will no longer be able to host a site at Roberto Clemente. However, we  are very excited to replace
Saturdays with sessions at  CPL-Richard M. Daley Library  at Kedzie and Chicago in West Humbold Park (not to be  confused with Richard J. Daley Library). We are thrilled to be partnering with Chicago Public Libraries and are excited to serve the West Humboldt Park neighborhood.

We will replace Tuesday evenings at Roberto Clemente with sessions at  WIC Food Center-Armitage. This is an existing Saturday location, and is not far from Roberto Clemente. As always, we appreciate our partnership with the WIC Food Centers and Catholic Charities.  

Downers Grove DeVry Closed:

Unfortunately, the Downers Grove location of DeVry University was unable to accommodate us this year. However, they have happily welcomed us at their Addison, IL location.

While this site is a little further away from Downer's Grove than we might have liked, we hope that it will suit both our clients and volunteers alike. 

St. Xavier Closed:
We have decided that we will not be able to support the special sessions at St. Xavier this year.


Ladder Up is pleased to welcome John Gremer as he fills the role of Interim Executive Director while Christine Cheng is on parental leave.

John is an experienced CPA and licensed attorney and is a member of  Ladder Up's Advisory Board. He has been an active volunteer in our Tax Assistance Program for more  than 12 years. He recently retired as a  partner in KPMG's State and Local Tax Practice, where he served for  nearly 28 years.

We look forward to working with John until February, when Christine will return. He can be reached at (312) 466-0771 or jgremer@goladderup.org.


Ladder Up summer volunteers served  306 clients and completed  493 tax returns between May and October at Harold Washington Library. 

A special thank you to Chris Lundervold, Claudia Bulcau, Eileen West,
Ivanna Krutnyk,  Jim & Linda  McGuire,  Johari Braswell-Bey, Karin Reichensperger,  Kathy  Johnson, Katie Gudgel, Linda Klute,  Meghann Kruse,  Sheila Mickus, Tom Scott,  & Tim Hunter for making it out! 
Become a Ladder Up Brand Ambassador. We're
trying to get hip with the program. Help us get there! Like, share, and comment on our posts. Share pictures of  you and your  friends   volunteering.
Tell us your  favorite Ladder Up story. We want to make taxes cool again- and let's be honest- we need your help!