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As the Tax Deadline Looms, MU to Host Free Online Tax Preparation Site

April 03, 2012

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

COLUMBIA, Mo. — With less than two weeks remaining before the deadline to file 2011 tax returns, many people have still not filed. 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 are hosting a Free Assisted Self Tax (FAST) preparation site on three dates in April. On April 4, April 11, and April 18, Missourians will be able to file their taxes for free online at a University of Missouri computer lab.

Free assistance also will be available for those who have questions about their returns. Andrew Zumwalt, an associate state specialist for financial planning and a member of the University of Missouri Extension faculty, says the FAST site program not only helps participants file their taxes free of charge, but also provides MU students a great learning experience.

“The MU students who will provide assistance for filers at the FAST site have been through IRS training and certification,” Zumwalt said. “Those who qualify can file their tax returns for free, and students learn how to communicate with clients about money.”

The MU FAST site will be held in 147 Stanley Hall on the MU campus. Zumwalt says the IRS has made a change this year that may cause refunds to take longer than normal.

“The IRS is using a new online refund system this year,” Zumwalt said. “While ultimately it should be faster and easier to use, they are still working out some kinks, so we are seeing refunds delayed by as much as week. If people are counting on receiving their refunds quickly, we urge them to do it sooner rather than later so they don’t get caught off guard by the longer wait.”

MU Extension also sponsors several Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites for low-income filers who wish to have their taxes prepared by a trained volunteer for free. 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 find an MU Extension-run VITA site in the Columbia area, visit: http://extension.missouri.edu/hes/taxed/vitasites.htm

Andrew Zumwalt has been instrumental in founding and growing the Missouri Taxpayer Education Initiative (MoTax). Zumwalt serves as MU campus support for the state network of Family Financial Education Specialists.

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