MU tax expert offers tips for shortening delays, avoiding confusion when filing for education credits
January 31st, 2013
The views and opinions expressed in this “for expert comment” release are based on research and/or opinions of the researcher(s) and/or faculty member(s) and do not reflect the University’s official stance.
COLUMBIA, Mo. — As Americans begin to file their 2012 tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service announced this week they will not process tax returns claiming education tax credits until the middle of February. Andrew Zumwalt, an associate state specialist for financial planning and a member of the University of Missouri Extension faculty, says taxpayers who are looking to file the education credits have a few options.
“These taxpayers could decide to file their returns without the education credits and then amend their taxes in mid-February once those credits are accepted,” Zumwalt said. “This would allow for a quick refund excluding the education credits. However, filing an amended return to get the education credits can take between 6-8 weeks; there will be a considerable delay as you wait for your rest of your refund.”
Zumwalt also says taxpayers can choose to prepare their returns and wait to file until the IRS is ready to accept education tax credits. He says this will cause some delay in getting an overall refund, but the delay will be much less than waiting for the IRS to process an amended return.
“Whatever method you decide, be sure to keep accurate copies of your tax return,” Zumwalt said. “Also, be sure to closely examine your tax forms if you did pay expenses to an educational institution. Many institutions choose to list amounts billed instead of amounts paid and qualified education expenses only include amounts that were paid in that tax year.”
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 opened their Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites on Jan. 28.
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. Last year, MU VITA sites served nearly 1,500 mid-Missouri families.
The MU VITA sites are located in the Office of Financial Success, which is in Room 162, Stanley Hall, and Room 005, Cornell Hall on the MU campus. To find an MU Extension-run VITA site in the Columbia area, visit: http://extension.missouri.edu/hes/taxed/Taxhandbill.pdf