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MU VITA Sites Open Early, Provide Free Tax Preparation Help

MU Extension offers face-to-face tax education and online search tool

Jan. 24, 2011

Story Contact(s):
Nathan Hurst, hurstn@missouri.edu, 573-882-6217

COLUMBIA, Mo. – With the beginning of a new year comes the start of another tax season. To assist Missourians with their tax return preparation, tax experts in the personal financial planning department in the College of Human Environmental Sciences at the University of Missouri and MU Extension will open local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites on Jan. 25. Andrew Zumwalt, an associate state specialist for financial planning and a member of the University of Missouri Extension faculty, says the opening date will increase the number of people MU Extension personnel can help.

Andrew Zumwalt, an associate state specialist for financial planning and a member of the University of Missouri Extension faculty.

Andrew Zumwalt, an associate state specialist for financial planning and a member of the University of Missouri Extension faculty.

“Most sites around the state open up Feb. 1, but we will open our sites in Columbia a week before that date and will stay open through the end of tax season,” Zumwalt, the coordinator for the Missouri Taxpayer Education Initiative, said. “This will allow us to maximize the amount of assistance we can provide the public this year.”

Zumwalt says there are key changes this year in federal filing dates for certain tax payers, and recommends those with questions regarding the new rules to come in to a VITA site for more information.

“A new law will affect filers who use the tuition and fees reduction, educator’s expense, or those who file on Schedule A, which is anyone who itemizes their returns,” Zumwalt said. “Since these new changes can be confusing, the public is invited to come to one of our sites and find out if and how these changes apply to them.”

VITA is an IRS-sponsored program that provides free tax preparation assistance for low- to moderate income-level homes. Trained community volunteers may help with special credits, such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, most sites also offer free electronic filing.

To help the public locate all area VITA sites, the MU Extension office provides an online search tool that links directly to IRS data. This search tool will help locate any VITA site in the country, including all sites throughout Missouri. To view the MU Extension search tool, go to: http://extension.missouri.edu/hes/taxed/vitasites.htm

Andrew Zumwalt has been instrumental in founding and growing the Missouri Taxpayer Education Initiative (MoTax). MoTax sites have prepared more than 20,000 returns during the past six years. Zumwalt serves as MU campus support for the state network of Family Financial Education Specialists. Last year, MoTax sites helped Missourians receive nearly $4.3 million in tax refunds.

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