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Free tax preparation help available at Mizzou

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites for 2020 tax season are open

Feb. 13, 2020
Media Contact: Sheena Rice, 573-882-8353, ricesm@missouri.edu

Please note: Since the University of Missouri has suspended in-person classes on the MU campus, the free tax assistance sites at the Family Impact Center and MU campus are closed for the 2019 tax season. We are unable to reopen the tax sites for normal operation as our volunteers are primarily students enrolled in an experiential learning course during the spring semester. We apologize for the inconvenience. If you are looking for free tax preparation alternatives, you might consider the IRS FreeFile website that can refer you to other free tax preparation options or call 1-800-829-1040.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites to assist Missourians with their tax return preparation are open on the University of Missouri campus until April 15. Staff with MU Extension have also opened VITA sites around Missouri.

“Taxes can be complicated for many families, and given the number of changes now facing taxpayers, this year is no exception,” said Andrew Zumwalt, an assistant extension professor of personal financial planning. “Our student tax preparers and staff have been through IRS training and certification and are prepared to help students and families navigate their tax preparation 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 the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled

The campus VITA site is located in the Office for Financial Success Room 162, Stanley Hall. It will be open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3:30 – 6:45 p.m. It will be open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

A location in downtown Columbia also will be open 9 a.m.-12:15 p.m. on Mondays at the Family Impact Center at 105 E. Ash St. All sites will be closed the week of spring break, March 21-29.

“The VITA sites provide an opportunity for Mizzou students to give back to the community,” Zumwalt said. “Not only can individuals get the tax help they need, but our students gain experience communicating with clients about money in a hands-on, applied way.”

Individuals hoping to use the VITA site for tax preparation need to bring photo identification, social security cards, W-2s and other forms that would be helpful. The VITA sites are not able to prepare returns involving farms, complicated small businesses and rental property income. Clients will be served on a first-come, first-serve basis.

New this year for tax filing is a federal law aimed at helping victims of natural disasters. Victims of federally declared disasters, such as the Jefferson City tornado and flooding that ravaged several Missouri counties, can add personal casualty losses to their standard deduction. This includes homes, vehicles or personal belongings destroyed by disasters in 2018 and 2019.

Zumwalt encourages Missourians to stop by any of the MU Extension VITA sites around the state if they need help or have any questions about whether they qualify federal disaster relief. Most Missourians also can file their taxes for free online with IRS free file.

In addition to tax return preparation assistance, most sites also offer free electronic filing. Last year, MU VITA sites served more than 5,000 Missouri families; approximately 1,800 filed on the MU campus.

To search for VITA sites around Missouri, visit: http://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep. For more information call 573-884-1690.

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