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Business and the Economy

VITA Tax Services in High Demand As Tax Season Comes to a Close

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In the days leading up to April 15, the VITA Tax preparation clinics have nearly every appointment slot filled during its last week of assistance. The clinics are located all over the area and service members of the community who earn $51,000 or less per year. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has this update.

VITA stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and is a free local IRS sponsored program that helps prepare current year tax returns for lower income individuals. The clinics started back during the first week of February and could be found at several different locations throughout the week, including a few libraries in Springfield, Glendale High School, James River Assembly, Holy Trinity Parish Hall, Drury University, Legal Services of Southern Missouri and Missouri State University. 

One of the biggest and most popular local clinics operates through MSU. Dr. Kerri Tassin is the director of the clinic. She and a group of certified students held their first appointments on the first Saturday in February.

“There has been extremely busy and steady traffic. Sometimes we would see a little bit of a slowdown in March; this year we have not seen that slow down. My students have worked extremely hard every week since February 2nd, with the exception of Spring Break and Spring Holiday. It has been extremely steady.”

She says this past Saturday alone, they prepared around 125 tax returns in a few hours. Tassin says she isn’t really sure why this year there was such a high demand for the service.

“That’s something that we hope to look into after tax season is over because that’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves as well. When we start planning for next year, which we’re going to do here right away following the end of tax season, we’re going to do our best to try and help those clients, and also to provide a quality educational experience however for our student volunteers as well.”

If you’ve not started filing your taxes, you’ve got just a little under a week before they’re due. Tassin has advice for those that waited until the last minute.

“They may need to prepare for the idea of filing for an extension at this point. Try at this point to find a reputable tax payer who still has some time to help with that tax return, but don’t panic if they aren’t going to be able to file that tax return this week. A lot of those folks are already booked with the amount of work they can handle.”

There is a federal and a state extension tax form you can fill out if you need to. She does advise people to be careful because this late in the season, there is higher risk of tax preparation fraud. Be very wary, she says, and look for a reputable tax preparer in your area.

The clinic appointments at the MSU locations are completely booked at this point. However, on Friday, April 12, on the fourth floor of Glass Hall, VITA will set up another station for MSU community members. On April 13, there will be a clinic set up at the Library Center from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. for the community at large. Please bring a photo ID and a legitimate source of social security information or another government issued form. Also, if you have past tax returns, feel free to bring those as well.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.

Read more about the VITA Tax preparation service, or click here to see a schedule of the remaining tax clinics.