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MU VITA Sites Open, Provide Free Tax Preparation Help

MU Extension offers face-to-face tax education

February 4th, 2016

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

By Amanda Narverud

COLUMBIA, Mo. – 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, the MU School of Law and MU Extension have opened their Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. Sites will be open around the state, including two on the MU campus. Andrew Zumwalt, an assistant extension professor for financial planning and a member of the University of Missouri Extension faculty, says the VITA program not only helps participants file their taxes; it also provides MU students a great learning experience.

“Those who qualify can have their tax returns prepared for free, and students learn how to communicate with clients about money,” Zumwalt said. “Students that volunteer from the MU School of Law and from the Department of Personal Financial Planning have been through IRS training and certification. Through the VITA sites experience, they are given the opportunity to put their training into real-world practice.”

The MU campus VITA sites are located in Stanley Hall, Room 162 and Hulston Hall. The Stanley Hall site will be open from 3:30-7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Hulston Hall site will be open Mondays from 3:30-7 p.m. To search for VITA sites around the country, visit: http://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/.

Zumwalt says that the sites have not seen any major problems arising for people filing their 2015 tax returns. He says some Missourians have questions regarding a 1095-C form received from employers and that VITA site filers can help clarify confusion among tax filers regarding the form and Affordable Care Act mandates.

“If you have health insurance through work and have not had any changes to the plan in the past year, you should be able to check a box and be done,” Zumwalt said. “However, for those who bought health insurance through the ACA marketplace, had to change insurance plans for any reason, or experienced a gap in insurance coverage for any reason, it may be quite complicated.”

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 for an ACA exemption or other tax credits. Missourians also can file their taxes for free online at a new online VITA website: www.MyFreeTaxes.com/MoTax

VITA is an IRS-sponsored program that provides free tax preparation assistance for low- to moderate- income-level homes that earn less than $54,000. 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. In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, most sites also offer free electronic filing. Last year, MU VITA sites served more than 9,000 Missouri families, with approximately 1,700 filed at the MU campus VITA sites.

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