Eric Rash is just one of many students in the north metro region volunteering his time to help Coloradans file their taxes. The Northglenn High School senior is part of the Tax Help Colorado Program, a partnership between The Piton Foundation and …
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Eric Rash is just one of many students in the north metro region volunteering his time to help Coloradans file their taxes. The Northglenn High School senior is part of the Tax Help Colorado Program, a partnership between The Piton Foundation and the Colorado Community College System, which provides individuals and families with an annual household income of $52,000 or less the opportunity to file taxes for free.
Before he began filing taxes, Rash completed a concurrent enrollment tax accounting course through Front Range Community College in Westminster. He spends his Saturdays filing taxes, and learning valuable tools for his future.
“I want to go into corporate tax as my career, that's what I'm going to go to college for,” he said. “It's what my mom does. I've seen how successful she is and it's really inspiring to me.”
Melissa Viola with The Piton Foundation said students are experiencing valuable work experience preparing tax returns and exposure to careers in the accounting field. Students are also providing a community service and gaining an understanding that needs exist in their community, she added.
“We are very proud of the students at Northglenn High School who are participating in the Tax Help Colorado program. Not only are these students learning how to prepare taxes and taking a series of tests to become IRS-certified, they are sacrificing their Saturdays to help Northglenn residents,” Viola said. “We are impressed by their dedication, and we are grateful to them for their willingness to volunteer their time.”
Although Rash is getting a head start on his future career, the best part of the program is simply helping people. He said people will wait in line for hours just to receive the free tax service, which shows that they really need the assistance.
And once that tax return number comes in, Rash truly sees the appreciation of those he's helping.
“I was filing taxes for one woman who had her kids with her, and she ended up with a $7,000 return,” he said. “She was so grateful for it. She said that money will help pay a lot of bills. So it makes me feel good knowing I helped with that in a way.”
Viola said many people who qualify for the free service are also eligible for tax benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, EITC. Last year 345,000 Coloradans claimed the EITC and received an average of $2,000 per household. But Viola said there are still about 50,000 people who don't claim the EITC who are eligible.
“We want to make sure people are getting the tax credits they qualify for,” she said. “We don't want anyone leaving money on the table.”
The free tax site at Northglenn High School, 601 W. 100th Place, is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays through March 14. Clients are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. For other free income tax assistance sites in Colorado call 211 or visit http://www.piton.org/tax-help-colorado.
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