The Tax Help New Mexico office was alive with camaraderie the day that Carol Ussery was there to get her taxes done. Someone new to the office might think she was the official Tax Help greeter and promoter: “Come on in!” she said whenever anyone hesitated upon seeing the full waiting room.
“I’ve been coming to Tax Help for four years,” she explains.
“I tell people, especially older adults, that the volunteers here are experts. This is a good community service that United Way provides, especially for seniors and folks with a lower income.”
After her open heart surgery, Carol waited seven months to get Social Security disability. “I’ve been humbled,” she says. Carol always has a part-time job to supplement her Social Security. Recently, she was a concierge at MorningStar Assisted Living. “I loved my residents,” she said. “One of my clients, Arlene, was the mom of a Tax Help volunteer!”
When asked what she plans to do with her refund, Carol laughs. “I’m not going to do anything with it.” She explains that before her surgery, she worked for herself in real estate and had her taxes prepared by someone who did it incorrectly. Unfortunately, that means she eventually owned about $10,000 in back taxes. “I paid $200 to $300 a year to have my taxes done wrong,” she said. “But now that $10,000 bill is down to about $4,000.” Carol’s income is about $1,132 per month, with $632 going to rent. When you add in medications, food and gas, it’s a very tight budget.
Nothing, however, seems to get Carol down. When she says she is enjoying the little things, she means it. As she leaves the Tax Help office, she says good-bye to the volunteers and hugs two other clients. “Take care!” she says, “Maybe we’ll see each other next year.”