Volunteer income tax assistants offer free services to Missouri residents

Friday, February 10, 2012 | 12:34 p.m. CST; updated 9:18 p.m. CST, Saturday, February 11, 2012

 COLUMBIA - With the April 17 federal tax-filing deadline just a couple of months away, volunteer income tax assistants have begun offering free tax assistance to those from households with low to moderate income levels.

The College of Human Environmental Sciences at MU and the MU Extension opened Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites in late January. The IRS sponsors the sites, and student volunteers for the program must complete a training course and pass five exams in order to become certified.

The program defines low to moderate income as a household that earns $50,000 or less. Volunteers can assist people with income tax credit, child tax credit and credit for the elderly or disabled. Most sites offer electronic filing.

“It’s beneficial that there’s a human there to talk to,” said Andrew Zumwalt, associate state specialist for financial planning and a member of the MU Extension faculty. “If you file taxes online, it’s hard to ask what something means or whether or not you qualify for something. Being able to sit down across from a human allows you to narrow down the question being asked. It’s also beneficial for people who are filing returns for the first time, which many students are.”

Here's where free  tax help is being offered.

  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance services will be provided in 61 Stanley Hall at  MU from 4:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Services are provided in Cornell Hall in Room 005 on Mondays from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Central Missouri Community Action at 800 N. Providence Road also provides services on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Offices are closed March 24 to April 1 for MU's spring break.
  • Volunteer income tax counselors offer free tax aid to taxpayers, with a focus on those 60 and older, with low to middle incomes in the Training Center on the second floor of the Columbia Public Library on Monday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m. and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Volunteer counselors at the Missouri United Methodist Church on South Ninth Street also offer free services on Monday and Tuesday evenings from 3 to 7 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Because tax day falls on a Sunday, the deadline for filing taxes has been extended by the IRS to Tuesday, April 17. The services at the public library and at the Missouri United Methodist Church will be available until April 17. The services at VITA will end on Monday, April 16.

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