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 will open Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites from Jan. 24-April 17. Sites will be open around the state, including two on the MU campus and one in downtown Columbia. Andrew Zumwalt, an assistant extension professor for financial planning and a member of the University of Missouri Extension faculty, says the VITA program helps participants file their taxes and 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 the Department of Personal Financial Planning have been through IRS training and certification. Through the VITA experience, they are given the opportunity to put their training into real-world practice.”

The MU campus VITA sites are located in Room 162, Stanley Hall and in Room 6, Hulston Hall. The Stanley Hall site will be open 3:30-7 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The Hulston Hall site will be open 4:15-7:45 p.m. on Mondays. A site also will be open 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Family Impact Center at 105 E. Ash St. To search for VITA sites around the country, visit:

Zumwalt cautions anyone planning on claiming certain tax credits on their tax returns that they may see delays in receiving their refunds.

“Due to an increased amount of tax fraud, the IRS is delaying refunds for those claiming the Earned Income Credit and the Additional Child Credit until Feb. 15,” Zumwalt said. “While it is never smart to budget based on tax refunds before you physically receive the money, people who are claiming these credits should be sure to plan on not receiving any part of their refund until later in February. After mid-February, the IRS does not expect any additional delays.”

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 can file their taxes for free online at a new online VITA website:

VITA is an IRS-sponsored program that provides free tax preparation assistance for low- to moderate- income-level homes that earn less than $60,000. 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 offer free electronic filing. Last year, MU VITA sites served more than 10,000 Missouri families; approximately 1,800 filed at the MU campus VITA sites.