MU Extension offers face-to-face tax education
January 29th, 2013
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 opened their Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites on Jan. 28. Andrew Zumwalt, an associate state specialist for financial planning and a member of the University of Missouri Extension faculty, says the VITA program not only helps participants file their taxes, but also provides MU students a great learning experience.
“The students that actually prepare the taxes at MU have been through an IRS training and certification,” Zumwalt said. “Those who qualify can have their tax returns prepared for free, and students learn how to communicate with clients about money.”
Zumwalt wants to be sure taxpayers are aware that Congress recently renewed the federal Residential Energy Credit to apply retroactively to 2012 as well as for the upcoming year.
“We had been telling everyone all year that this tax credit, which maxes out at $500, would not count for 2012,” Zumwalt said. “However, Congress just renewed it, so if you made any home improvements in the last year that increased energy efficiency, you may be eligible to receive a tax credit after all.”
To find a list of Residential Energy Credit-eligible home improvements, visit: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index
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
In an effort to promote smart financial decisions by Missourians throughout the state, MU Extension has declared February “Missouri Saves Month”. The “Missouri Saves” program aims to help individuals and families save and build wealth. This program assists those who wish to pay down debt, build an emergency fund, save for a home, save for an education or save for retirement. The goal of the campaign is to convince all Americans that they can build wealth and to assist them in doing so. “Missouri Saves” is a part of the national “America Saves” campaign.
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.