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RPS students aid in Goodwill Industries tax assistance program


High school seniors in Rockford Public Schools will help this year with Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois’ annual tax filing assistance program. A group of about 10 students in the coming weeks will earn their IRS Tax Preparer certification through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA. Students can then use that certification to land a summer internship or job. They can also list that certification on a college application. 

“Fewer than 20 high schools across the country do this,” said Britta Anderson, financial program manager for Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois. “These students are part of a very small, talented pool of students.” 

Students were chosen for the program, in part, by their scores on the WorkKeys test, which is a component of the Prairie State Achievement Exam. They also needed to be enrolled in a high-level math or accounting class. Students selected to participate in the program and receive the certification have also completed more than a dozen hours of prep time and coursework. Goodwill Industries staff will review the students’ work before submitting the information to the Internal Revenue Service. They’ll work with Goodwill Industries to staff seven tax assistance events from 4-7 p.m.:

East High School library: Feb. 18, March 4, March 18
Auburn High School library: Feb. 25, March 11, April 1 and April 8

Administrators hope to offer similar partnerships and certifications in each of the high school academies, part of the high school redesign to hook students into real-world work and job experience.

The assistance with RPS students is open to any RPS staff members and parents of RPS students. The program will not assist filers with depreciation and rental income, and some self-employment restrictions apply. Call 815-987-6200 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

This tax assistance program can also aid in completing the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Goodwill Industries will operate the GoodTAXES free income tax preparation and filing program for the fifth year. During this time, 150 volunteers have helped more than 4,600 families file tax returns, resulting in more than $5.6 million in refunds returned to the community.