Students at Amos P. Godby High School in the finance academy are doing taxes free of charge for the community of Tallahassee. So far, the students have filed 50 tax returns.
The volunteer program started six years ago at the high school in partnership with United Way and the IRS Volunteer Tax Assistance Program (VITA). It is under the Best Project, which is Believe, Save and Thrive. The students go through a 1- to 2-day training process with the IRS.
Former finance teacher at Godby High School and assistant principal at Lively Technical Center, Cari Molinaro, said that it helps the students understand the meaning of filing taxes.
“A lot of them think they are just filing to get money back, but that is not the case for everybody in every situation. They learn a lot in the process,” Molinaro said.
Although the program started with only seniors, it is now also open to mainly sophomores and juniors, and they each have a specific task at hand.
“Within the past three years we have allowed sophomores and juniors to volunteer. Sophomores playing more of a greater role and helping customers come in and fill out their interview form while shadowing the juniors and seniors. Then, stepping up as juniors if they are ready, to help actually prepare tax returns. We leave the advance ones for our seniors,” Molinaro said.
Molinaro also pointed out that she simply enjoys helping people, and that this is knowledge that can not be taught overnight.
Alonzo Garcia, senior and volunteer tax preparer, said it is more than just receiving volunteer hours.
“This is my third year volunteering and it’s been a rewarding experience thus far. (I’m) gaining knowledge on how to prepare taxes and being able to help people,” Garcia said.
Customer Michigan Joseph said the process was quick and easy, and the volunteers were very friendly.
“This is my first time coming here (Godby High School), but this isn’t my first time using the program. This isn’t my consecutive year, but this is my second time using the program,” Joseph said.
If you are interested, you can stop by the Media Center at Godby High School, any Monday between now and April 11. They will be closed on March 14.