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, a group of Palm Beach County high school students are ready to step in.
Santaluces Community High School, west of Lantana, and Lake Worth Community High School are part of a pilot program with the IRS to train students to become volunteer tax preparers.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education
A group of Santaluces Community High School students aren't just studying for class, they're learning to file taxes by the book.
"Once you start studying and learning about the process, it gets easier," said student Woodgina Filsaima.
Students like Filsaima are part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA.
With funding from the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County, 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 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.
"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. With that date quickly approaching, there's only one day left — this Wednesday, April 13 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. — to come out to Santaluces Community High School and get your taxes done.
You must have an appointment in advance. To make an appointment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The tax preparation program is one example of strengthening financial literacy education in schools.
Gov. Ron DeSantis just signed off on a new law that requires high school students to take a financial literacy course in order to graduate.
The School District of Palm Beach County's financial literacy coordinator said the district already offers that course as an elective in high school, and he looks forward to all students having that exposure.
"This is one of the few courses that we can say, with confidence, that every single student who walks out of this course is going to use this material in their lives," said Aaron Standish.
The new financial literacy course requirement will go into effect for the 2023/24 school year.