Three Rivers Helps with Tax Preparations

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - Three Rivers Community College instructor Terri Smith knows how taxing filling out your tax forms can be.

"With the forms, you have to sit down, and read through them to know what goes where. Probably four or five hours to get it figured out," she said.

If you don't want to take the time to do them yourself, Smith says an accountant will charge between $25-50.

But not all families have the time to file themselves or the money to pay someone else, so smith partnered with the South Central Missouri Community Action Agency to form the Tax Blitz, which provides free tax returns to college students and those going through economic hardship.

"If you have a family of four, you're talking about $44,000 for household income or below that who will qualify for the free tax preparation. So that's a lot of people who will fit in that area," Smith said.

Smith estimates she and other volunteers will not only help as many as 300 families get their maximum refund, but will also teach them how to spend it wisely.

"Try to help people use that refund for something other than a recreational purchase. Something to invest in," said SCMCAA Community Services Director Todd Richardson.  "Put it back in the local economy, but put it towards something that's going to benefit them more long term."

Richardson says people in the lower tax brackets can see a return up to 20% of their yearly income, but all too often the money is gone almost as fast as it arrived.

"We see too many people, and I think they feel pressure to spend and get rid of that refund rather quickly," he said.

So, the group is offering financial planning to help make those tax return dollars go a little further in 2010.

The Tax Blitz will be held January 25th through January 29th and February 1st through February 5th in the Bess Center conference room on the Three Rivers campus. the room will be open from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. The blitz will also be offered at First United Methodist Church at 500 North Main in Poplar Bluff. That's on Saturday, January 30th and Saturday, February 6th from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Those who want their taxes prepared need to bring their social security card and tax papers.

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