Each year around this time we get quite a few listeners asking about the free income tax program and wanting to know if it's legit. It is, in fact, a totally free service and not some weird scam. I have friends who have used it for years and they're always quite satisfied with how their taxes are handled.

Student volunteers at the U of M offer the "Missoula Community Free Tax Assistance" to hundreds of qualifying locals each tax season. The School of Business Administration students work with VITA, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, to help individuals or families who make about $50,000 or less.

Opportunities to get your tax return prepared for free are every Saturday through March 5th. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gallagher Business Building on the main campus in room 209. The service is first come first served and no appointments are offered.

Volunteers are certified and trained to prepare basic tax returns in the Missoula community. If your annual income is more than 50k or you have complicated taxes, you are likely not eligible. Check if you are eligible and see what items and documents you will need to bring.

If you're not eligible for the free U of M service this is still a good reminder for you to make an appointment with your tax person. Most of them were doing a drop-off kind of thing for the past two years but many of them are going back to in-person preparations this year. Good luck out there, hope you get a nice return! For more info or specific questions about the free preparation, you can reach out to Kent Swift at 406-243-4182 or kent.swift@mso.umt.edu or call Clem Lockman at 406-546-6571.

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