Student volunteers from seven Colorado Community College System colleges, including the Community College of Aurora, have helped return $6 million to the bank accounts of Coloradans via a unique program that pairs taxpayers with aspiring tax professionals. Refunds generated by CCA volunteers totaled $2,797,451.
The program, Tax Help Colorado, is a Piton Foundation-sponsored initiative that relies on the colleges of CCCS to provide free income-tax return preparation to lower- and moderate income working families via nine of the program’s location across Colorado.
“This is truly a win-win program for all involved,” said Tamra Schmitt, coordinator of the program for CCA—the first site to offer the program when it was launched back in 2007. “The taxpayers benefit by avoiding tax preparation fees and working with friendly, well-qualified preparers. The student volunteers benefit by providing a useful community service, while at the same time gaining valuable hands-on tax preparation experience.”
Schmitt added that “it is very rewarding to see how our positive reputation has brought more and more taxpayers to seek our services each year, resulting in such tremendous growth.” She said that “a pretty impressive” 1,265 volunteer hours went into the preparation of the returns this year. The program is designed to help taxpayers whose annual household income is less than about $49,000. According to census figures, about 30 percent of Colorado families are eligible for the program.
Between Jan. 29 and March 12, trained volunteers at the college prepared and e-filed taxes free of charge for eligible individuals and families in Aurora on behalf of Tax Help Colorado. The CCA service processed 1,181 tax returns.
Tax Help volunteers include CCA students who have completed accounting courses to learn income tax preparation and how to run tax sites. These courses are accredited and certified by the Internal Revenue Service.