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High school students learn how to file taxes through IRS program

Santaluces Community High School teacher Veronica Kivela shows tax preparation information on April 6, 2022.jpg
Posted at 8:51 AM, Apr 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 14:32:22-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — We're just one week away from the deadline to file your taxes, and if you're still looking for someone to help get your taxes done, high school students may be able to help.

A pilot program by the IRS trains students to become volunteer tax preparers.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education

A group of Santaluces Community High School students in Florida is learning to file taxes by the book.

"Once you start studying and learning about the process, it gets easier," said student Woodgina Filsaima.

Santaluces Community High School teacher Veronica Kivela instructs students on tax preparation on April 6, 2022.jpg
Santaluces Community High School teacher Veronica Kivela instructs students on tax preparation on April 6, 2022.

Students like Filsaima are part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA.

A handful of students and their teacher studied for and passed certification exams to perform free tax preparation services for low to moderate income community members.

"It is so needed," said teacher Veronica Kivela.

It's a lesson not only for the students, but for Kivela too.

"The tax law, it seems so tedious and complicated. And I learned that, actually, it does make sense and it's eye opening," Kivela said.

Santaluces Community High School teacher Veronica Kivela speaks to WPTV on April 6, 2022.jpg
Santaluces Community High School teacher Veronica Kivela speaks to WPTV on April 6, 2022.

Santaluces Community High School has completed almost a dozen returns, with Filsaima doing three herself.

"We have had zero rejections at our site," Kivela said.

The students get community service while learning a skill that will carry them through life.

"I also feel proud because after you complete the taxes, they will say, thank you. And that means a lot to us and they will say how much they appreciate us," Filsaima said.

Santaluces Community High School student Woodgina Filsaima speaks to WPTV on April 6, 2022.jpg
Santaluces Community High School student Woodgina Filsaima speaks to WPTV on April 6, 2022.

"This is basic skills, this is life lessons," Kivela said. "It's incredible to think they will be able to take this on in the future."

And knowing taxes are one of those certainties in life, Filsaima is glad to be one step ahead.

"I really appreciate being a part of this program. It's really rewarding," Filsaima said.

The deadline to file your taxes is Monday, April 18.

Santaluces Community High School students prepare taxes on April 6, 2022.jpg
Santaluces Community High School students prepare taxes on April 6, 2022.

This story was first reported by Stephanie Susskind at WPTV in West Palm Beach, Fla.