WUFT News

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

Waiting for author to email caption w/ names

Eastside High School Culinary Team Wins Sixth Place In National Competition

Students of Eastside High School’s Institute of Culinary Arts competed in the National Prostart Invitational in Anaheim, California, hosted by the National Restaurant Association. The team came in sixth place.


**Tenley was emailed to verify that she made this. Credit it accordingly once she responds.**

Two Years After Grant Ends, Alachua County Schools See Little Improvement

Alachua County schools received a $2 million grant five years ago. Three of the schools that benefited greatly from the money haven’t seen much improvement in their school grades.


Students at Stephen Foster Elementary School learn the basics of nutrition education from retired University of Florida dietetics professor Dr. Pam McMahon. Kids in the Kitchen is a county wide program sponsored by the Department of Children and Families, UF and the USDA. Photo courtesy of Bailey Bruce / Foster Elementary Afterschool Coordinator.

New Program Hopes To Bring Nutritional Education To Elementary Schools

Stephen Foster Elementary School is the first elementary school to participate in Kids in the Kitchen, a program that teaches students about nutritional food options and food preparation. The program was started by Pamela McMahon, Ph.D., a retired University of Florida faculty member and registered dietician.


Screen Shot

UF Students Welcome Bill Proposing Tax-Free Textbooks

A new law in Florida could help students save money on expensive textbooks. The bill looks to eliminate the sales tax from textbooks to give students a break on the hundreds they already spend on required texts.


Students at Sante Fe College have opportunities to seek baccalaureate degrees in many areas of study. Santa Fe is one of 28 state colleges in Florida, which offer a combined 175 baccalaureate degree programs.

Four-Year Degree Limitation Proposed By State Senator Sparks Debate

Senator Joe Negron proposed to limit baccalaureate programs in Florida community colleges in a recent Senate Higher Education Committee. Santa Fe provost Ed Bonahue argues that the attention should be placed on enrollment, not the programs.


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