Student volunteers to assist with tax returns

Feb 03, 2010

Participating in the kickoff ceremony for Buck$ Back were (left to right) Liz Kolar, Mira Gegvata, Roger Collins, Ben Rusiloski and Pat Smith









For the sixth straight year, Delaware Valley College students will be helping low-income families fill out their tax returns.


The goal is to maximize refunds from Uncle Sam, but the benefits go farther.


"By doing this you are changing people," Roger Collins, director of the Bucks County Opportunity Council, told the student volunteers at the program's kickoff  Feb. 3. "You're helping people with goals and dreams. It's more than filling out forms."


The Opportunity Council oversees the program - called Buck$ Back! -- and coordinates with partners like DelVal.  About 40 students so far have been trained and certified to fill out tax returns. Collins said he has 200 client applicants so far and another 200 who are waiting for callbacks.


At the kickoff, Collins expressed appreciation for the students, for their caring attitude and their willingness to volunteer their time. Last year Buck$ Back, operating at seven sites, secured $1.5 million in refunds, credits and fees saved. Collins wants to double that in 2010.


"We couldn't do this without you," he told the students. "Let's go get that $3 million.


The DelVal volunteers represent only one facet of the program. Last year they alone saved low-income families more than $181,000. Since 2005, they have saved over $1 million.


Collins recalled one case where the volunteer tax preparers saved a family $7,500, which was 50 percent of their income.


"No one has answered the call more than DelVal students," he said.


Working with them this year will be Dave Dowdy, a Central Bucks West High School senior who is doing his senior project on Buck$ Back.


The DelVal students, working with community volunteers, will be doing the tax work at the college on Saturday mornings and Thursday nights. Baby sitters will be present and light refreshments will be served. Those wishing to have their taxes done should call the Opportunity Council at 215-345-8175.


Coordinating the program at DelVal is Pat Smith, an administrative secretary. Among those assisting are Mira Gegvata, chair of the business department, and Liz Kolar, a business professor.


At the kickoff ceremony, welcoming remarks were made by Benjamin Rusiloski, dean of  business, education, arts and sciences.