Education feature: Accounting class offers tax help

Avien Desantos, left, helps Ruby Mattox of Clovis file her taxes Wednesday at Clovis Community College. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

The well-lit room in Clovis Community College exudes the efficient air of an office. But the people here, seated behind computer screens, are students on the path to being professionals.

As part of a CCC accounting class, 18 students have provided free tax preparation to community members since February. Most have volunteered close to 20 hours for free tax preparation and will leave the class as certified tax preparers, upon receiving a B or better in the class.

“You can learn from books all day long, but until you apply (what you learn) you never really own it,” said Becky Carruthers, CCC dean of educational services.

“(These students) will be better workers because of this project,” Carruthers said.

Accounting student Amanda Marquez, 21, said she has given and gained through the program. Preparing tax returns has given her valuable experience, and “you feel good,” she said, “because you get to help people.”

This tax season, students have prepared more than 100 returns and snagged local taxpayers more than $142,000 in state and federal refunds, according to accounting instructor Monica Sanchez.

She said free tax preparation will continue until April 5.

Implemented three years ago in partnership with TAX HELP New Mexico, the program is breaking its own records. Students this year filed more than double the number of returns filed in 2005.

Carruthers, who helped establish the program at CCC, is thrilled.

Tax returns are filed electronically by students and taxpayers can receive refunds in less than two weeks, she said. That means more money is returned to the area, she said.

Taxpayers are thrilled, too.

“I think it’s (the program) fantastic, especially when you have to pay (the government) back,” said Clovis resident Ruby Mattox, as an accounting student prepared her return Wednesday.

“You don’t want to pay someone to (say) you have to pay (the government),” she said of the free service.

Fast facts
The Clovis Community College free tax preparation service is available:

• 9-11 a.m. Mondays
• 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays
• 9-11 a.m. Thursdays
The service ends April 5.

• Call 769-4113 to schedule

• Contact Monica Sanchez at 769-4948.