SPC's Training Table for the (Amazing, Unsung) Taxperson

January 22, 2019

Public Information Officer

ONCE AGAIN, ST. PHILIP'S COLLEGE TRAINS THE UNSUNG COALITION OF SAN ANTONIO'S VOLUNTEER INCOME TAX PREPARATION SITE TEAM MEMBERS

In December and January, the college annually trains local people with excellent skill sets to ‘keep the money in the neighborhood’ by giving back and processing millions in refunds for thousands of clients in the nation’s seventh-largest city. Alumni of the college site have returned to the college to learn how to run other coalition sites that can keep what amounts to a combined millions in the pockets and accounts of hard working people and businesses in the neighborhoods they serve.

St. Philip's College scholarship students will open San Antonio's most productive income tax preparation site when the 2019 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) season begins on Jan. 22.

Their two-story business unit in the college’s Bowden Building at 1801 MLK Drive not only possesses the numbers to support their high return-on-investment status, according to the VITA San Antonio coalition authority, the top floor is the annual hub of training for the entire corps of unsung new and returning tax preparers. 

According to a coalition authority, the student-run site established in 1992 ranked number one in productivity locally in 2018, number four in productivity in the region and number 12 in productivity nationally. 

While the coalition saw 32,425 total tax returns electronically filed for $48,023,556 total refund dollars and $11.3 million in tax preparation savings, 9,685 taxpayers received Earned Income Tax Credit that resulted in those clients receiving $19,761,102. Of that coalition share, St. Philip’s College students completed 4,170 client tax returns for $7,313,607 in total refund dollars and $1,459,500 in tax preparation savings and a $1,331 Earned Income Tax Credit that resulted in $2,896,883 dollars in savings for clients at the college’s site, according to Sheila Anderson-Ruth, senior management analyst in the family assistance division of the City of San Antonio's Department of Human Services.

In 2017 the team of students processed just over $8 million ($8,009,952) in refunds for 4,152 clients from Jan. 20 through April 18, according to an authority at United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County. All 21 VITA sites in San Antonio generated a total of $53,976,073, making San Antonio one of the strongest volunteer programs in the nation. 

For 2018, “St. Philip’s College ranked number one locally, number four in the region and number 12 nationally,” said Ruth.

In a galvanizing example of return-on-investment that the public can contribute funds to support, most of the students on the team were Student Engagement Grant-funded students of business who gave back as members of San Antonio’s VITA operation that is the largest VITA business unit in America run by volunteers. 

The site staff informally recruited students and community volunteers with excellent skill sets as it formed its 2019 team. Alumni of the college site have returned to the college to learn how to run other coalition sites that can keep combined millions in the pockets and accounts of hard working people and businesses in the neighborhoods they serve.

Site alumna Abby Mohamed is a 2007 accounting and 2011 business administration alumna of the college who is also an alumna of the business administration program at Texas A & M-San Antonio. A 2018 alumna of service at the Brook Hollow VITA site, Mohamed is at the college training table this week, training for service at a third VITA site, this time in the leadership position of site coordinator at Thousand Oaks.

“It’s a new and crowded site and I’m there by myself,” Mohamed said with a smile from the training table she shared with quite a few of the city’s unsung volunteers.

A member of the college’s 2018 VITA site team, Crystal Gandara is a 2015 alumna of the college’s liberal arts and business administration programs who began volunteering at the top-performing site with support from a college student engagement grant in 2014.

“I was having contractions when I worked at the VITA site and graduated from St. Philip’s College, and that’s my graduation and VITA team story. For 2019, I’m going to help with Spanish speakers and see if we can serve 5,000. I think both are achievable,” said Gandara.

Lisa Alvarez is a 2018 alumna of the college’s computerized accounting program who performed her internship with the business department while she was both a student engagement grant recipient and a VITA team member. Now she’s training this week to become the leader at the coalition’s Brook Hollow site. 

“When I got into VITA, I was no longer unsure what I wanted to do, and when I got into VITA at St. Philip’s College, I said, this is it. Typically, when I tell people what I love do with taxes, their response is, well you are one of the few. When I get to Book Hollow I’m going to have my St. Philip’s College VITA experiences in my head the whole time. I can’t just walk up to the college site leader to ask questions anymore. Instead it will be challenging and fun for me at Brook Hollow without the direct support from my St. Philip’s College team. At Brook Hollow, our team consists of three including me and a site leader. Unknowingly, during this training this week I sat down beside the girl I’m working with. I love it, because this is helping people,” Alvarez said with both seriousness and a smile. 

Kenneth Bankston is the college site leader and the instructor for the coalition training.

“Many of the coalition members have recertified here, from Thousand Oaks to Ella Austin Community Center, and all 21 sites citywide. We’ve trained 300-400 volunteers on campus since December alone,” said Bankston.

For details, contact site leader Kenneth Bankston at 210-486–2122, spc-vita@alamo.edu, or visit the site team in Room 110 of the college’s Bowden Building at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive. For details on contributing to the Student Engagement Grant element of the St. Philip’s College Scholarship Fund, contact Gloria P. Hernandez, college scholarship coordinator, at 210-486-2498, ghernandez@alamo.edu.

CAPTIONS:

Image 1: In an archival image, the 2018 St. Philip's College tax preparation site team was in a stretch run to complete the season, processing taxes from 2017 for 3,200 clients entering the final 48 hours of the first quarter at their site in Room 110 of the Bowden Building on the college’s campus at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive. Orianna Henry monitors tax preparation productivity at San Antonio's most productive income tax preparation site for 2018. Henry is a St. Philip’s College business administration student and one of the site’s first-year team members. SPC is the site of training underway this week for the entire corps of unsung new and returning tax preparers. Alumni of the college site have returned to the college to learn how to run other coalition sites that can keep millions in the neighborhoods they serve. (SPC image by Julysa Sosa)

Image 2: : In an archival image, the 2018 St. Philip's College tax preparation site team was in a stretch run to complete the season, processing taxes from 2017 for 3,200 clients entering the final 48 hours of the first quarter at their site in Room 110 of the Bowden Building on the college’s campus at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive. As a tax client (center) listens, site leader Ken Bankston (standing at left) clarifies a process for Orianna Henry (far right), a college business administration student and one of the site’s first-year team members. SPC is the site of training underway this week for the entire corps of unsung new and returning tax preparers. Alumni of the college site have returned to the college to learn how to run other coalition sites that can keep millions in the neighborhoods they serve. (SPC image by Julysa Sosa)

Image 3: In an archival image, St. Philip's College tax preparation site team members attended a February 2017 ceremony on the steps of City Hall when the VITA San Antonio coalition announced the 2018 tax season. St. Philip's College scholarship students operated San Antonio's most productive income tax preparation site during the 2017 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) season and repeated that status in 2018. SPC is the site of training underway this week for the city’s entire corps of unsung new and returning tax preparers. Alumni of the college site have returned to the college to learn how to run other coalition sites that can keep millions in the neighborhoods they serve. (Image courtesy City Council District 2 on Facebook)