With Tax Day just around the corner, some University of Missouri departments are turning tax season into a learning experience for students.
The University of Missouri Extension, Personal Financial Planning Department and MU School of Law have been providing a free program to help students and families who made $60,000 or less this past year, through a personal finance class.
VITA, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, gives IRS certified finance students real-world customer service experience.
“Most of our students are personal financial planning students and they’ll take this experience and when they go out and actually do financial planning they’ll have learned how to talk to people about money because that is such a taboo,” course instructor Andrew Zumwalt said. “It’s great to get that experience now versus when you’re with an employer and a bad customer service response could be your job.”
Students on both sides of the program see the benefit as well, according to Andrew Porter, an IRS certified student helping people file their taxes. He said he appreciates the hands-on experience.
“When you get hands on experience you just overall you pick everything up quicker and I think I have a better understanding of taxes than I would if I were just talking about it in class,” Porter said.
Anna Bradley is another student getting a lesson in taxes this year, but not as a part of the course. This is Bradley’s first time filing taxes in Missouri and she said this program is important.
“Actually, I’m the only one of all my friends doing their own taxes this year,” Bradley said. “I mean we’re 21 now, we’re kind of grown now. You should be able to do this stuff on your own and find your own way how to do it. So, I think it’s important for students to learn how to do their taxes without their parents help.”
Assistance sites opened in January at the beginning of the semester. The last day for free tax assistance is Saturday April 15 at 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the MU Office for Financial Success in Stanley Hall.