Business students at Ossining High School have earned an advanced certificate, providing them with the qualifications they need to prepare tax returns.
On several Mondays until April 18, the deadline to file taxes, the students will be available to assist community members by doing their taxes at no charge.
OHS business teacher Debbie Jacoby said students have been providing this service for about 10 years and that OHS is one of only 200 schools in the country to offer it. This year, there are about 50 student-volunteers participating; they earn service-learning credits for their participation.
To qualify, students are required to pass three exams – on ethics, intake and tax law. They began studying for the exams six weeks ahead of time and, because the certification is required each year, business teacher Debbie Jacoby takes the exams along with some of her former students who come back to help.
Many scholars add the experience to their college resume. Unlike many taxpayers, Ms. Jacoby said, the students find participating fun. In addition, they can now prepare their own tax returns and save themselves money.
Business student and sophomore Cristina Gooden had a practical reason for volunteering.
“I don’t want to have to pay someone to do mine,” Christina said, laughing. “I tell my friends it’s a necessity. When we’re in college, we can save money. On top of that, you are helping others.”
Ms. Jacoby works with Westchester County officials who share the news with residents that this program is available. Many book an appointment through the county, although walk-ins are welcome.
Once a student has completed a tax return, he/she/they submit it for review before it is officially submitted to the IRS.
Scholars will be available on March 28, April 4, and April 18.