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Local Universities Offer Tax Preparation Services for Low Income Individuals

With the new calendar year comes a new tax season. KSMU’s Melanie Foehrweiser has information on programs at two local universities that look to take the stress off low income residents.

This tax season Missouri State University and Drury University will again be putting on VITA, or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, clinics. Tiffany Cossey is an assistant professor, and administrator of the VITA clinic at Drury.

“VITA is a free service that is offered to the community. We have students who go through testing and they’re certified by the IRS every year and they offer free income tax preparation to individuals who earn $51,000 or less [per year].”

Students who volunteer at the clinic take an income tax class in the fall, and then get two years of hands on experience preparing taxes at the clinic. Cossey says this real world experience is very beneficial.

“Instead of just doing homework problems and reading from the book, they actually get to do hands on tax preparation and see how everything works, and of course when you put things into practice in real life it can…it can make the picture a lot clearer.”

Cossey says anyone who wishes to take advantage of the VITA clinics needs to bring a few things with them.

“They need to bring the social security cards for themselves and their dependents. They need to bring photo IDs for the primary taxpayers. They also need to bring any tax documentation that they may have received either in the mail or via email. Things like their W-2s, 1099s.”

Cossey says if possible clients should also bring a copy of their 2011 tax returns.

The VITA Clinics will begin at both Drury and MSU in early February. For a list of times and locations, click here for Drury or click here for MSU.

For KSMU News, I’m Melanie Foehrweiser.