CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Forty students at West Oso High School are certified to help with tax preparations through their accounting class.
The students have been helping people in the community file their tax returns through the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. The school started offering the service in 2020, but had to stop because of the pandemic, and did not offer the program in 2021 for the same reason.
“We’re the only school here in South Texas that has a program offered to the students,” said Carlos Lerma, the teacher in charge of the program.
“It ranges anywhere from 100 dollars, to 500, 600 dollars, depending on the complexity of their returns. They’re very appreciative of the services we offer here,” Lerma said.
The students are grateful for the experience.
“It’s such a great learning opportunity to be a part of this, learning how to do people’s taxes, and being certified, it’s just amazing,” said Anthonie Villareal, a junior at WOHS and president of the school’s VITA program.
Fellow junior and program vice president, D’Schonn Simmons, said it’s rewarding to help out his community.
“It’s kind of fun, just seeing the satisfaction you put on everybody’s faces when you’re helping the community, just meeting new people in the community you haven’t met, or seeing old faces you haven’t seen in a while,” Simmons said. “It feels amazing to be able to help people here in the community, especially being so young, because so many times people look down on people who are young. But, this program just shows that the young are here to help.”
“We service the community that West Oso is located in, the Molina area. So, they give back to the community they actually live in,” Lerma said.
The community members are appreciative to have the service available to them.
“They’re real smart students, and they’re willing to learn,” said Luis Amador, who got tax assistance at WOHS. “I was real happy with the outcome of my preparation for income tax.”
The students receive valuable experience through the program, as well as volunteer credit necessary to graduate. Not only that, some of them, like Simmons, receive inspiration for their future.
“It kind of helped me guide where I want to major in, I’m definitely considering some accounting, or things like that,” he said.