Financial Monitor, Traveler, Organizer
Do you file your tax returns electronically? If you do, you can thank Pointe resident Carolyn Buttolph. Near the end of her distinguished career as a computer expert and senior executive with the Internal Revenue Service, she headed the small group that came up with electronic filing of tax returns.
“E-filing has made many advances since,” said Buttolph, “but it was a revolutionary advance for IRS.”
After her 30-year IRS career and more than 20 years of active retirement, Buttolph brought her formidable financial and organizational skills to Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads. She moved in on her birthday, Jan. 23, 2010, one of the earliest Pointe residents.
Having headed the board at her Fairfax condo before moving to GHBC, joining the Buildings, Operations and Maintenance Committee was a natural first step for Buttolph. She chaired BOM COM for several years, and then moved to the Finance Committee, where she quickly became chair. She took a break from the Finance Committee to chair the Resident Council five years ago, and is now Finance Committee chair again.
The Finance Committee monitors finances and serves as a liaison between residents and management on financial matters. Buttolph has written a “financial primer” for residents, to explain the Goodwin House structure and its financial reporting and budgeting. Click HERE for a copy of the primer.
Addressing the GHBC operating budget, Buttolph noted that “what you need day to day doesn’t change much. But here, it’s dependent on labor costs. You need at least to break even, and labor costs continue to go up. This drives the annual fee increases, usually 3 percent per year.” Unfortunately, she added, this has translated to an increase of over 20 percent from 2010 to today.
Labor costs in dining services and health care are the biggest budget points, she continued. “Goodwin House is very good at staying within budget, and it’s financially very stable. But dining services struggles to find and keep employees.”
Coaches & Cruises
Resident Services at GHBC were reorganized last year, and one result was creation of the Trips and Outings Committee, with Carolyn Buttolph as founding chair. The committee plans local outings and is increasingly offering longer trips. By hiring motor coaches, Buttolph noted, larger groups can make day and overnight trips.
Carolyn (waving in the back row on the left) and the first GHBC Family group trip
To date, the Goodwin House family has enjoyed day trips to Chadds Ford, Penna., the Skyline Drive and Richmond. In addition, Buttolph has organized several cruises, including trips to the Caribbean and the Bahamas.
Buttolph selected Royal Caribbean because it offers cruises from Baltimore. “We can simply go by bus to the cruise terminal, get on the ship, and reverse that on our return,” she pointed out.
Carolyn with the Captain of the Celestyal Crystal Cruise Ship
Carolyn with friends on a trip to Cuba
This month will bring the first overnight coach trip, to the Philadelphia Flower Show. The trip, offering transportation, hotel, dinner and flower show admission for just $139 per person, has sold out, said Buttolph. Future trips include a September 2019 cruise to Bermuda and, closer to home, a cherry blossom lunch cruise on the Potomac in early April.
Life Before GHBC
Carolyn Buttolph was born in Tamaqua, Penna., near Reading. As a third grader in late 1940, she moved with her family to Washington, D.C. After graduating from Roosevelt High School, she received a four-year scholarship to George Washington University. She started as a physics major but quickly switched to mechanical engineering. On learning that most female mechanical engineers didn’t build bridges but had desk jobs instead, she switched and stuck to business administration, where she took lots of economics and accounting courses.
Recalling her beginning budgeting course, Buttolph stated that she was one of just two students in the class “who knew we had to suspend logic and belief to understand budgeting. And it’s still true.”
Buttolph joined the Internal Revenue Service in 1958 as part of a small group selected to learn computer programming. The IRS was sharing access, with the Census Bureau, to a Univac 1, and was ready to upgrade to a Univac 1103A. At that time, “there weren’t many people who understood computers, but I did,” said Buttolph.
Her next job at IRS was to computerize the processing of tax returns, a job that involved programming an IBM 650, a drum computer. As she rapidly rose through the ranks at IRS, Buttolph became the expert in charge of writing standards for all computer programmers at the agency.
Later in her career, she was assistant IRS district director in Albany, N.Y., and district director in Burlington, Vt. On returning to D.C., she was division director in charge of hundreds of computer programmers. “But I had two heart attacks,” noted Buttolph, “and went back to my former work in systems development.”
This is where she headed the group that developed electronic filing. And another colleague came up with “TINs for tots” – the requirement that all children must have Social Security numbers (taxpayer identification numbers, or TINs) from birth. The result of this requirement, said Buttolph, was that millions of children for whom taxpayers had claimed deductions simply disappeared.
After her 1988 retirement from IRS, Buttolph spent two years as a consultant for the International Monetary Fund, and a happy and active 20 years traveling to more than 50 countries and working with Zonta International, a service organization that advances the status of women.
Anticipating the need for future support, Buttolph began looking at retirement homes around 2004. Buttolph looked at the plans for the Pointe, and her decision was easy. Today Buttolph enjoys a sunny apartment in the Pointe, with a few carefully selected mementos of her many travels.