Area residents who meet income guidelines have a new, free way to file their federal and state taxes, through a program offered locally for the first time through the United Way of the Mark Twain Area.
United Way of the Mark Twain Area Executive Director Denise Damron said residents in Lewis, Marion, Monroe, Ralls and Shelby counties who earn a household income of less than $66,000 can file their state and federal tax returns for free throughmyfreetaxes.com for the first time in the area. In previous years, volunteers assisted residents through free appointments as part of the federal grant-funded Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This year, the United Way of the Mark Twain Area and Douglass Community Services have switched from VITA to the myfreetaxes.com program, which Damron said will offer a more convenient way for participants to file their taxes.
“This allows individuals to do that completely independently,” she said. “That part is amazing, that individuals can do this on their own if they do have that household income level.”
Damron said that she was receiving calls about the VITA program through October regarding the previous year. Now, participants can access the website and follow online prompts, advice, a phone number and email address if they need assistance. The tax service is sponsored nationally by United Way Worldwide and H&R Block, and Damron said the process takes less than an hour to complete from a computer, tablet or smartphone with guaranteed security, accuracy and maximum refund amounts.
People who don't have access to a computer or an internet connection can visit the Hannibal Free Public Library computer lab, and they can call the United Way of the Mark Twain Area office at (573) 221-2761.
Damron said she looks forward to learning how many people the service will impact in the area when the program concludes for the year.
“Ultimately, it will be a great availability, and individuals can use it at any point in time,” she said. “With VITA, we ran out of so many appointments — there were only so many spaces, and we had a huge waiting list. We don't have a waiting list with this, anyone can file their taxes with that income part of it.”