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Ossining HS Students Providing Free Tax Preparation Assistance

Ossining High School students help residents do their taxes.
Ossining High School students help residents do their taxes. Photo Credit: Contributed

OSSINING, N.Y. -- Accounting students at Ossining High School are preparing tax returns at no charge for people in the community who made $54,000 or less in 2015 as well as people with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency who need assistance.

They are accepting people on a walk-in basis from 4 to 8 p.m. on Mondays through April 11 in room 111 at OHS, 29 South Highland Ave.

Students start the last tax return of the evening at 7:15 p.m.

The Interfaith Council for Action Housing Network, an IRS-certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, has provided free tax preparation services to the community since 2005 and has partnered with accounting teacher Debra Jacoby and her students for the last four years.

“These young people are offering something very valuable,” said Quantel Bazemore, site coordinator for the council. Jacoby, a certified public accountant, takes the certification test first each year and then prepares students for it.

In addition to passing the exam, students must take an ethics test and sign a confidentiality agreement.

The number of people who use the program has been increasing, Jacoby said, from about 50 the first year to roughly 120 last year.

Yetta Lovett of Pleasantville said she saved a few hundred dollars in tax preparation fees and was satisfied with her experience.

“It’s great that OHS and the students provide the free service,” she said.

Students have to volunteer for at least six hours during the eight weeks to meet their accounting course requirements.

“This program is an outstanding opportunity for OHS students to give back to the community in a very meaningful way,” OHS Principal Josh Mandel said.

Senior Kimberly Berger, 17, said she likes interacting with people and seeing how happy they are if they are due a refund.

“It’s fun. I like to do it,” she said.

Senior Dayanna Rios, 18, took Jacoby’s accounting class last year and is back this year to review tax returns that her peers complete.

“I plan to major in accounting in college and I just like doing the taxes,” she said.

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