Free tax preparation at Trinidad State Valley Campus helps 270 community members
Valley Campus / March 25, 2015
Trinidad State Tax Help volunteers this year prepared 270 returns in the San Luis Valley, 66 more than last year. For the last five years Trinidad State has provided the service for low and middle income people. This year those making less than $52,000 were able to take advantage of the free service. Known as Tax Help Colorado, it’s made possible by a partnership between Piton Foundation and more than a dozen Colorado colleges. This year, thanks to the program, $435,886 in Federal and State refunds came back to Valley residents.
During the fall semester, each of the volunteers took a two-credit hour college course to learn tax laws and the software used by the IRS. After preparing simulated returns and passing their certification exams, they were ready to assist at the tax site during the spring semester.
For the first time, Centauri High School students joined the team to provide tax preparation at the high school in La Jara. Elizabeth (Ellie) Anderson, Devon Barrows, Nathan Tailleur, and Mitchell Wilson worked with Mike Creel, Centauri High School Business Instructor, who oversaw the site. Ellie Anderson said, “I was afraid at first, but after a while my confidence grew and I really enjoyed assisting our community members.” Some clients commented that the students were so young and wondered how they could possibly be preparing taxes, but the student volunteers reassured them that they were IRS certified.
For the second consecutive year Alamosa High School students assisted with the tax preparation at the Trinidad State site in Alamosa. Seniors Denisse Garcia, Alex Lopez, Marisol Lucas and John Owsley were great assets as they assisted wherever needed. “I loved the experience!” said Lopez. “It was excellent to meet so many people and to expand my knowledge. I was able to gain a valuable skill, while helping people from all over Colorado!” Lucas said, “Tax Help was a fun experience! I felt very professional doing taxes and it was nice helping out everyone.”
“Tax Help Colorado was such a rewarding experience. I will be able to use the skills I learned for the rest of my life and being able to help others in the community is indescribable!” said Owsley.
Another first was the certification of two Trinidad State full-time staff members. Kicheal Langford, who works in purchasing, said, “I didn’t know there were so many laws involved with doing taxes. It was definitely a learning experience.” Debbie Martinez, who works in accounting, said, “Tax Help Colorado was a great learning experience for me. I want to become a CPA in the future and this is one way to get started. This is something that benefits our community and many are grateful because of it.”
Business Management and Accounting students, Laura Cordova, Katie Fransen and Erin Guymon completed the team. Advisors included Genia Rasmussen, Site Coordinator, Shawn Cavalli, Assistant Site Coordinator and Lea Chavez, TSJC Business Management Program alumni, who volunteered for the fourth year because she enjoys assisting and recognizes the need for this free service.