Local Residents Take Advantage of Free Income Tax Aid
COLUMBIA -Dozens of Mid-Missouri residents flocked to the Daniel Boone Public Library Friday to take advantage of the Association of American Retired Persons' (AARP) 7th annual program offering free income tax filing assistance.
Volunteer income tax counselors from AARP have been helping local residents since February 1st, filing free returns for local residents with salaries below $50,000. Corporate tax return assistance could cost upwards of $200, which is why David Berg, the program receptionist, believes it is vital to offer the service for free to people with low incomes.
Many hours of preparation and work goes into this event, from both volunteers and patrons alike. About 30 people visited the library Friday morning, carrying a year's worth of financial information and documents. The AARP counselors have also spent a great deal of time assisting more than 1,200 people in the past two months, as each return averages around 30 minutes of individual service. Berg said he anticipates the total to reach 1,600 by the program's conclusion April 16th.
The tax service is also offered through the University of Missouri. Around 60 MU students majoring in Personal Financial Planning volunteer their time to help out the residents of Mid-Mo. Andrew Zumwalt, Associate State Specialist for Financial Planning and director of the service at Mizzou, said the most difficult aspect of this job is translating the tax requirements and results into a manner clients can understand. The two organizations, AARP and the financial planners at Mizzou, work together by referring clients to each other and using similar software to remain consistent with their customers.
David Berg explained that the most rewarding aspect of this service is getting to work with local residents, hearing their stories, and giving back to the community of Columbia.