Tax season made easy through Sparkpoint


Marshique West / The Advocate

Colleen Smallfield (left) helps nursing major Maria Caroache (right) at the tax preparation workshop at the Transfer/Career Center Friday.

By Jessica Suico, News Editor

The Career/Transfer Center hosted a free tax assistance workshop to help students and faculty file their taxes and get any information they need about taxes and how to file prior to the April 15 deadline.

The Friday workshop was put on by Sparkpoint, United Way Bay Area and the Earn It! Keep It! Save It! (EKS) organization. They helped six students navigate the filing process.

To register for an appointment people in need of assistance are directed to to begin the process.

There are still four more sessions of tax preparation service that will be held on campus. More help sessions are scheduled for Feb. 22, March 8 and 22, and April 5, each from 1- 3 p.m. in the Career/Transfer Center.

Earn It! Keep It! Save It! coordinator Colleen Smallfield said, “This is a pilot for this workshop. Myself, Sparkpoint, United Ways and Contra Costa College talked about having a workshop on campus for students to be able to file their taxes for free and get any help they need.”

Earn It! Keep It! Save It! has over 200 sites in the Bay Area where people can receive help completing their tax forms. There are about 3,000 IRS certified tax volunteers that go to these cites, Smallfield said.

If those who need help filing their taxes made $64,000 or less last year, these workshops are perfect help for them, according to a press release given to Sparkpoint coordinator Bill Bankhead.

It states that in 2018 3,000 EKS volunteers helped file more than 78,000 federal and state tax returns bringing more than $81 million in federal tax refunds to local Bay Area communities.

Since 2003, volunteers have facilitated more than half a billion dollars in refunds to Bay Area households.

Bankhead said, “(former dean of students) Vicki Ferguson and (Dean of Students) Dennis Franco were the people to first pitch this idea to me last year. Franco worked really hard with me, to get this workshop finalized to have on campus.”

Bankhead said he would like students and faculty to get the tax refunds they deserve. He also hopes to highlight Sparkpoint on campus, as well as to the community.

“You don’t need to be a student to get this assistance. This is also open to people in the community,” Bankhead said.

UWBA fights for stability and equal opportunity for residents in eight Bay Area counties.

It takes an innovative, holistic approach to ending the cycle of poverty through advocacy and programs that support all ages. They do this by providing free access to family support, financial and career coaching, job opportunities and basic needs.

Health and human services major Adriana Desousa said, “This workshop is very good for students because we don’t have a lot of financial resources to be able to afford to pay a professional to file our taxes.”

Smallfield said, “It feels good to help people in a stressful situation because, tax season and filing taxes can be stressful. I like to be able to bring solutions to people’s problems.”