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MU VITA Sites Open, Provide Free Tax Preparation Help

MU Extension offers face-to-face tax education

February 8th, 2012

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217,

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 statewide Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites this week. 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 says the IRS has made a change this year that may cause refunds to take longer than normal

“The IRS is using a new online refund system this year,” Zumwalt said. “While ultimately it should be faster and easier to use, they are still working out some kinks, so we are seeing refunds delayed by as much as week. If people are counting on receiving their refunds quickly, we urge them to do it sooner rather than later so they don’t get caught off guard by the longer wait.” 

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.

To find an MU Extension-run VITA site in the Columbia area, visit:

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.