Buchholz High School Students Prepare Community Tax Returns

By on April 10th, 2014
(Left to right) Ryan Warm, 15, watches as Blake Williams, 15, and Zach McAfee, 14, prepare Dawn Walker and William Walker's 2013 taxes. Eighty-seven Buchholz Academy of Finance students are certified tax preparers and volunteer at their computer lab on Tuesdays as a United Way Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site.

Claudia Marina/ WUFT News

(Left to right) Ryan Warm, 15, watches as Blake Williams, 15, and Zach McAfee, 14, prepare Dawn Walker and William Walker's 2013 taxes.

Ryan Warm spends his Tuesdays voluntarily preparing tax returns for his community— after school gets out.

Warm, 15, is one of 87 students in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at F.W. Buchholz High School.

VITA is an “IRS initiative designed to promote and support free tax preparation service for the underserved,” according to the IRS website.

This year, the United Way of North Central Florida partnered with F. W. Buchholz to certify the school’s Academy of Finance students to prepare tax returns. The school is one of 12 VITA sites in North Central Florida, and it is the first high school in the area to have students in the program.

Debbie Mason, the president and CEO of United Way of North Central Florida, said all Buchholz students went through the same tax-prep certification process as anyone else.

Jennifer Stojkovic, a member of the United Way of North Central community impact team, focuses on health and income issues. She said students began working toward their IRS certification at the start of tax season in January.

Though the course takes about 12 hours, the students received their training over a three-month period by integrating the program into their regular curriculum, she said.

Stojkovic oversees the program. As of April 2, students have prepared 40 tax returns.

Certified students stay after school on Tuesdays from 5  to 8 p.m. to prepare taxes for people with low-to-moderate income for free. VITA is available to those making $52,000 or less per year.

Stojkovic said this amount is more of a target than a limit because they never turn anyone away.

Michele Brothers, the director of Buchholz’s Academy of Finance, said tax return preparation was already part of the curriculum. However, students are now able to utilize their skills on a wider scale.

“One night, no lie, we had three people here having their taxes done, and I just wanted to know how much they paid last year,” Brothers said. “On average, they paid over $300 to have their tax returns done.”

Warm said he appreciates the opportunity. Despite being intimidated at first, Warm said having the certification alleviates some of his stress. He said it is comforting to know he will be able to do his own taxes in the future.

Jared Taber, the assistant principal of curriculum at Buchholz, said he believes the program gives students confidence.

“I think it means something to a high school student when you have somebody who’s considerably older than you are, and they’re coming to you with their financial information and trusting you to make decisions for them,” Taber said.

Behnaz Pat, a community member who benefitted from the program, said the students discovered she was about $900 off in her 2013 tax return.

“It was nice to see people at such a young age that are independent and can take care of this,” Pat said.

The students will prepare tax returns through the April 15 deadline.

In addition to the Buchholz location, Stojkovic said the United Way of North Central Florida Gainesville office will also serve as a free tax return preparation location on April 15 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“Some of them have come just one night, and they’re like, ‘Can we come another night, Ms. Brothers? That was fun,'” Brothers said.


This entry was posted in Education and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • One Thirsty Bear

    Article 1, Sections 7 and 8 of the United States Constitution, clearly define the power of the purse as belonging to Congress. The House, specifically. The President may make suggestions, per Article II, Section 3.


More Stories in Education

Diego Castillo and his parents pose for a photo after a Colombia game during the 2014 FIFA World Cup that resulted in a win.

DACA Creates Opportunity, Uncertainty for Students After Graduation

Students are receiving help from the American immigration policy Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, during their time spent in college. But, with graduation approaching, students are figuring out if they will be eligible to stay in the United States after they graduate.

Social-Emotional Program Aims To Reduce Bullying

At A. Quinn Jones Exceptional Student Center, every student uses seventh period for social-emotional learning. Designed to help reduce bullying, the class is the first regularly scheduled class of its kind in Gainesville. Students take the time to learn how to […]

Honor students in Phi Theta Kappa are raising funds to purchase school supplies for under-privileged students in east Gainesville.

Santa Fe Students Raise Money To Buy School Supplies For Gainesville Schools

Phi Theta Kappa, an honor society at Santa Fe College, organized a drive to raise money to buy school supplies for elementary and middle school students in east Gainesville.

World Teacher's Day was recently celebrated, but in Florida some teachers say the best gift they could receive would be the end of high-stakes testing.

Standardized Testing Affects Alachua County Public School’s Teaching Practices

A lack of accountability with standardized testing is a common problem facing Florida schools, causing Parent Teacher Associations around Florida and other organizations to promote more positive learning environments. Alachua County Public Schools has recognized the frustration the local educators are feeling.

The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre put on two productions of “Banned!?” Saturday, a play that discusses children’s books that have been banned. Displayed above is the re-enactment of “Where The Wild Things Are,” which has been repeatedly challenged for “romanticizing anger” to children.

Book Lovers Celebrate Banned Books Week

Annual Banned Books Week from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3 was celebrated at UF in the Plaza of the Americas on Thursday. Students read literature aloud from different authors who’s work has been challenged in public schools. The goal for Banned Books Week is to celebrate the liberty to read.

Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments