Free tax help still wildly popular at Trinidad State
Valley Campus / February 10, 2020 / Written by Margaret Sanderson
For the tenth consecutive year Trinidad State is offering tax preparation help to San Luis Valley residents with a 2019 household income of $56,000 or less.
Clients return year after year. Except for the one year she lived in Taos, Brenda Hutchins has been using the service each year since tax help began. She said, “They are efficient, very thorough, organized, and very professional. This is great!”
Valley native, nineteen-year-old Deedra Gray will be volunteering for the first time. “Deedra is a natural accountant and she is actually tutoring for accounting as well as other business courses,” said Business/Accounting Professor, Genia Rasmussen, who is coordinating the event along with Lea Chavez, a former student volunteer, who teaches several classes at the college. Other employees assisting include Julianna Chaparro, the logistics coordinator,, Roberta Taylor-Hill and Jack Wiley. Christa Davis, Business Manager at the Veterans Center at Homelake, will be assisting the Trinidad State team for the second year. Others volunteering include Gerry Baygents, Miguel Chaparro, Luis Garcia, Jaime Gomez, Justice Hernandez, Alicia Gonzales, James Keienburg, Jo Anne Manzanares, Ray Mix, Erica Porrello and Keely Williams Several volunteers are bilingual.
Gray, while deciding on an educational goal, took Accounting 121 last semester as an elective course to fill in some credits. She really liked it and now Rasmussen is her favorite instructor. “She started accounting a little late and aced it. She knows how to teach and has a good rapport,” said Rasmussen. Ultimately, Gray decided to assist with Tax Help Colorado and earn her accounting clerk certificate.
A Centauri high school graduate, Gray had taken concurrent classes beginning her junior year. Concurrent classes are taken while in high school and both high school and college credits are awarded for the same class.
Gray plans to finish her “gen eds” (general education requirements) at Trinidad State and earn her Associate of Arts degree. She then plans to transfer to Adams State where she will work toward a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) degree and, hopefully, move on to become a lawyer and eventually open her own business.
“I’m 19 and I’ve never done my own taxes before. I wanted to learn how,” said Gray. “I thought it would be a cool learning experience and I could help the community and be a part of something that is lasting.”
She continued, “I really like this school. It’s a really tight-knit community. If there’s any questions, you can ask and feel very supported. It’s comforting and helpful here. I like Trinidad State mostly because of the people here.” This ambitious young woman has packed 18 credit-hours into this semester, works two part-time jobs – one as a pharmacy technician and the other assisting in her grandmother’s gift shop. Somehow, she still manages to teach dance with her cousin Kaylee.
“She is an amazing student. She can write phenomenally well. She already has a very impressive business plan,” said Rasmussen. “She’s like a 30-year-old in a 19-year-old body!”
Ray Mix came to Trinidad state to “start from the beginning,” earn an Associates’ degree and transfer to ASU to pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work and eventually further that with a master’s. He is volunteering for tax help because he likes to help people. “My passion is to help find resources for those less fortunate that might not have capabilities or means to do on their own,” Mix said.
“I’m trying to be an example for my children because I want them to go to college. That’s my hope for them,” said Alicia Gonzales who will be the first in her family to graduate college. She attended Trinidad State in 2000 but left the Valley, then returned, married and had a family. With her seven-year-old in school full time, she decided it was time to return to Trinidad State. She said, “I have always wanted to go to school. My kids are older now (16, 10 and 7) and I felt I wanted to finally achieve this goal of mine.” Gonzales’ mother taught her how to do her own taxes and she loves helping people. She felt Tax Help Colorado would be a great opportunity to learn more about tax laws and help the community at the same time. Her current educational goal is to get an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Management. “If I stay on track, I will graduate in 2021 at the same time my 16-year-old daughter graduates from high school. Maybe we can have a party together!” said Gonzales. With more business know how under her belt, her dream is to establish her own house cleaning business.
Trinidad State Tax Help Colorado, in partnership with the Piton Foundation, is offered in the second floor Learning Center at 1011 Main Street in Alamosa every Thursday through March 19 from 4 to 8 pm. After 5 pm all doors will be locked except the West Middle glass doors. Enter there and follow the green signs.
Tax Help Colorado offers three options: 1) In-person Assistance (screening, review of tax-related documents, preparation of state and federal returns, and quality review), 2) Do-It-Yourself with Help, (with assistance from volunteers if needed, prepare your own returns using software designed for untrained taxpayers Note: for the do-it-yourself option ONLY, the earnings in 2019 can be up to $66,000) and 3) Drop Off (preliminary screening to include scanning of necessary documents, leave and then return a week later, review and sign return for electronic submission.) For more information go to trinidadstate.edu/tax where a list of required documents is posted. There, clients can either call to schedule an appointment or click the link and then choose which of the three options is preferred.
Also, a free call can be placed to 211, select English or Spanish, and then select 6 for tax information.
In 2018 the tax team secured an impressive $895,425 in refunds for the San Luis Valley community and they anticipate 2019 tax refunds to exceed that.
Note: Security will be on campus throughout to ensure a smooth flow.