Adams State students help Alamosa residents get tax credits

(03-20-2017)

For the 8th year, Adams State University Business School is offering free tax preparation through a partnership with Tax Help Colorado. This year, 60 students are participating in the program, returning $1,206,336 federal and state refunds to families in the community.

Nearly one-third of those refunds ($339,631) are from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable tax credit from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that helps boost the incomes of low-wage, working families. The federal credit is worth up to $6,200 and Coloradans who qualify get an additional 10% from the state credit.

Olga, a police officer in Antonio and mother to a 21-month-old baby, received a total refund of $2,500 this year. Olga and her boyfriend recently purchased their first home. "We had to get loans for the down payment and have the mortgage to pay off now too," she said. "Tax credits, especially the EITC, helps us with all of our new bills. They also ease our mind." She and her boyfriend are already thinking about the future for their children. "We hope that we can use the refund to feel better about bills and hopefully set up college funds soon."

Twenty-eight percent of Alamosa residents that filed taxes last year received the EITC, however, there could be many more families missing out. ASU students are trained to ensure taxpayers get the best refund possible, identifying those who qualify for the EITC and other tax credits for working families.

"We make sure that customers enter the site with good spirits and leave with the same attitude." said Cameron DeChesaro, the site's customer service manager. ASU accounting students completed a tax accounting course in the fall to get IRS-certified for filing returns. "The process to get customers through the paperwork screening, preparation, and quality review stages is a team effort," said Cam. They run a tight ship, greeting customers, making sure they have the appropriate paperwork, and preparing returns for the best possible refunds. After the taxes have been prepared, selected students review the customer's file to make sure that nothing was missed on the return.

These students are veterans to the program, and receive a small scholarship to ensure accurately filed returns.

"We are very lucky and proud that ASU has chosen to continue to be a part of our program for so many years," said Courtney O'Reilly, Tax Help Colorado program manager. "They take the Tax Help Colorado program to the next level by providing students with scholarship opportunities and leadership roles. We greatly appreciate their dedication to the program and to their community's economic success."

Taxpayers who made $54,000 or less in 2016 still have time to file through ASU. The site is open Monday evenings from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. until April 10. Taxpayers with incomes under $64,000 can file online for free through My Free Taxes, which includes prompts to walk them through the process.

Learn more about the Tax Help Colorado program and The Piton Foundation's EITC Outreach campaign at Tax Help Colorado.

About The Piton Foundation

The Piton Foundation, which is part of Gary Community Investments, is a private, operating foundation established in 1976 by Denver oilman Sam Gary. It is committed to improving the lives of Colorado's low-income children and their families by increasing access to quality early childhood and youth development opportunities and fostering healthy family and community environments. In addition to investing in creative solutions for Colorado's low-income children and their families, Piton operates its own programs, including the Data Initiative, Tax Help Colorado, and the nation's largest and longest-running Earned Income Tax Credit public information campaign.