Kathleen Perry Contributing Writer
The UMF Financial Literacy Peer Education Program (FinLit) helps students gain control of their finances through exciting events, including the upcoming Tacos and Taxes.
FinLit Coordinator Sarah Hinman said that the event will provide the help of peer educators, all of whom are certified tax preparers, as well as the ability for students to get their taxes filed for free, with a feeling of empowerment and free food. The peer educators will also be working with Hinman and volunteers from United Way.
FinLit’s Tacos and Taxes drew in about 30 students last year. Some individuals only needed a small amount of assistance, but the people within the FinLit Program also helped those who had never filed before and were “desperate to take charge of their tax situation,” said Hinman.
Taxes and Tacos was designed to provide a more cost-efficient and attractive alternative to the average tax-filing process. FinLit and Hinman recommend coming to this program instead of using another tax preparation service, such as Turbotax or H&R Block because it is free, there is food, and it is empowering. “Money equals power, and being able to handle your finances independently also equals power,” said Hinman.
The empowerment comes from students being able to have a hand in their tax preparation process, and allows them to be active within it. Being able to file one’s taxes and see the process creates a feeling of pride and confidence. “Tax events are very effective for the people that come,” said intern Caleb Grover.
Part of what makes the FinLit tax filing experience unique is the peer educators who are there to make the process as easy as possible. “There’s somebody to talk to and we know what we’re talking about,” Grover said with confidence. “If an issue comes up with your taxes, we would be the one to reach out to someone for you–you aren’t on your own.”
According to a previous article published in The Flyer, the FinLit program was formed last year following a donation of $901,000 from Janet Mills, governor of the state of Maine, to fund the program which was set to be put into place at all public universities in Maine by 2021.
FinLit helps with more than just taxes throughout UMF. “We provide a safe space for students to come and receive guidance or help on their different financial issues,” Hinman said. “That can range from understanding your bill better, reviewing what you owe for student loans and how much the monthly payment will be.”
Tacos and Taxes will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 25 in the Education Center lobby from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students are encouraged to bring their laptop and their appetite. Students can also visit the FinLit office hours Monday through Friday. To make an appointment, contact them through email or direct message on Instagram.
For future updates and opportunities for financial advice follow FinLit on Instagram @umf_finlit or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.