EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — High school students in the Socorro Independent School district are offering a helping hand to those who need assistance with their taxes.
Students at each of the district’s six high schools are providing free tax preparations for those making $60,000 or less through a partnership with GECU’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
The program is open to anyone in El Paso who needs tax assistance who falls within the guidelines through April 13. The program is offered from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with the following schedule at each school:
- Monday: Socorro High School
- Tuesday: Eastlake and Montwood high schools
- Wednesday: El Dorado High School
- Thursday: Americas and Pebble Hills high schools
“This is our fourth year that we’ve been volunteering with (GECU),” said Dahlia Acosta, SISD’s Career & Technical Education facilitator. “We just felt it was a good community service project for us to do at our campuses, something for our students to learn to take with them, to take the knowledge with them. Even if they’re not going into business or accounting, it’s something they can take with them for the rest of their life.”
In 2020, the schools prepared about 100 returns each and Acosta said they hope to do just as many or more this year. The program opened in Febraury.
“It’s amazing how they have been waiting for us to open – we feel like they were waiting for us,” Acosta said, adding that the community has been supportive of the program.
The students can work on basic tax returns, as well as well as more complicated ones such as those for contractors or freelancers, said Eastlake High School business teacher Claudia Rodriguez, who helps facilitate the program at her school.
“We have two levels of certification – all of our students and teachers are advanced certified – so when we have those situations when we have to work with retirement or investments, we are able to help those who have that,” she said
“It’s just nice to have a program for our students to grow, to learn and then be able to apply what they’ve learned to their future,” Rodriguez said.
In order to participate, each student must take a two-day training course and pass a test, and GECU preparers are available to students who have questions.
This is the first year that Eastlake senior Lenea Granados participated in the program. She’s happy to help her community and learn a useful skill too, even if business won’t be the degree she plans to pursue in college.
“The reason I wanted to do it was just to help the community and I wanted to learn something new,” Granados said. “Overall, it’s just been really enjoyable. I’ve really appreciated the experience, ‘cause I feel like it’s something I am going to take on in the future. Now I know how to do my own taxes and other people’s taxes, which is nice.”
To get your taxes prepared free in the program, you can simply go to the school of your choice during the scheduled times. Take the originals of your ID, social security card and W-2s, 1099s and any other forms of income, such as unemployment, as well as the original documents for spouses and dependents.