Free tax preparation help available at Mizzou

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites for 2021 tax season are open.

This is a picture of someone working on their taxes.

 
Jan. 27, 2021
Contact: Austin Fitzgerald, 573-882-6217, fitzgeraldac@missouri.edu

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites offering Missourians assistance with tax return preparation through the University of Missouri are now open in downtown Columbia and at MU Extension sites throughout the state through April 14. Due to social distancing requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic, VITA will not be offered at the Office for Financial Success on the MU campus, but several convenient options are available to ensure Missourians can get assistance, including virtual alternatives.

“During such an extraordinary time, people will certainly have questions about their taxes,” said Andrew Zumwalt, an associate 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 those with low- to moderate- income-levels — generally those who make $57,000 or less annually. 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.

Two VITA sites will be open in Downtown Columbia. The Family Impact Center at 105 E. Ash St. is currently accepting tax paperwork drop-offs from 9 a.m. – noon on Wednesdays. Starting Feb. 1, in-person appointments will also be available at the Daniel Boone Regional Library at 100 W. Broadway. For an appointment at the library, please call (573) 200-6615 and leave a message with your name and number.

In addition, TaxSlayer’s online tax self-preparation software is available free for students, faculty and staff of the University of Missouri System and its four campuses. For more information about this service, click here. Zumwalt said he also plans to have volunteers available via Zoom to answer questions for users of the self-preparation service.

“We are doing everything we can to offer tax preparation assistance to everyone who needs it,” Zumwalt said. “At a time when many in our community are in need, this is an opportunity for our student volunteers to give back while also gaining experience communicating with clients about money.”

Along with the options listed above, MU Extension VITA sites are open throughout the state, and most Missourians can file their taxes for free online with IRS free file. Search for a VITA site near you on the IRS website.

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. For more information, call 573-884-1690.

In addition to tax return preparation assistance, most sites also offer free electronic filing. Last year, MU’s VITA sites closed when in-person classes were suspended. In 2019, MU VITA sites served more than 5,000 Missouri families; approximately 1,800 filed on the MU campus.

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