IRS-certified counselors who also happen to be college students will be on hand at Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods to provide free income-tax help for those who qualify.
Maple Woods’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site is in partnership with NextStepKC. The free tax preparation (federal and state electronic filing) is for most people with incomes of less than $60,000.
The tax site schedule at MCC-Maple Woods, Computing-Business Building, Room 105:
- Wednesday, Feb. 7, 4-7 p.m.
- Wednesday, Feb. 14, 4-7 p.m.
- Wednesday, Feb. 21, 4-7 p.m.
- Wednesday, Feb. 28, 4-7 p.m.
- Wednesday, April 4, 4-7 p.m.
- Wednesday, April 11, 4-7 p.m.
The tax assistance is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. “Typically the line begins to form one hour before we open,” says Kim Luken, MCC-Maple Woods accounting instructor.
The tax preparers at the Maple Woods site are mostly students — 20 from MCC and five from Park University — along with a handful of seasoned community volunteers.
The MCC students took Luken’s Individual Income Tax class, BSAD 252, the week of Jan. 8, during their winter break. The students complete 20 hours of technical training, including taking three Internal Revenue Service exams to earn certification. The final course requirement is volunteering 20 hours at the VITA site.
The community volunteers “work alongside (the students), serving as quality reviewers who check all returns prior to e-filing,” Luken says.
“I’m always a little nervous for the tax season but definitely excited because it is such a unique opportunity for our students,” she adds.
There’s a sense of family at the MCC tax site — many of the taxpayers served there return year after year. “We have individuals wait for hours because they trust the service we provide,” Luken says.
Over the six evenings this year, the Maple Woods site expects to complete 250 tax returns.
Last year, three MCC campuses hosted VITA sites. This year, NextStepKC has a new “mega” site, which offers tax help Tuesday-Saturday, so several smaller sites didn’t open. The mega site is at Connecting for Good, 3210 Michigan Ave., Kansas City, MO 64109. [ Click for complete list of locations ]