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Free tax preparation offices open Monday

Free tax filing help is available at more than two dozen area sites for low- and moderate-income families or those 60 and older.
Free tax filing help is available at more than two dozen area sites for low- and moderate-income families or those 60 and older.

More than five dozen free tax assistance sites in the Kansas City area begin opening Monday to help low- and moderate-income as well as elderly filers do their taxes.

The area has 26 Internal Revenue Service Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, sites opening in coming days. They offer free tax preparation generally to those who earned $53,000 or less. Its Tax Counseling for the Elderly, or TCE, program is free to those 60 and older.

The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide also is providing free tax assistance at more than 40 area sites to filers who meet the same qualifications.

Online tax help is available free to households with income of $60,000 or less.

In the Kansas City area, many VITA sites are being run by Next Step KC, working with the United Way of Greater Kansas City. Next Step KC is seeking qualified tax volunteers. Here is its list of sites and information to bring for tax help.

Many of the sites plan to offer service one or a few days each week, and some require an appointment. Check the IRS’s online list or dial 211 to reach the United Way to locate an office convenient to you.

Other groups supporting VITA sites include the University of Missouri Extension’s MoTax, the IRS employee group Association for the Improvement of Minorities, and TRCB Vita Tax Service.

The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide online locator provides information about each site, as well as a list of information to bring to receive tax help.

Next Step KC volunteers prepared more than 8,000 federal and state tax returns free last year and they returned $9.5 million to the Kansas City area.

One way these services help is by making it easier for those who qualify for Earned Income Tax Credits to collect them. The credits reduce the amount of taxes that low- and moderate-earners owe and can be collected as refunds even if no income taxes were owed or withheld from their pay.

Next Step KC is a non-profit group that formed in 2013 through a merger of three other community-based programs: KC CASH Coalition that provided free tax help, Fair Community Credit that had a small-dollar loan program, and Bank On Save Up, that provided financial education.

Through those combined missions, Next Step KC helps low- and moderate-income families in the area find affordable and appropriate financial services and products.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @mdkcstar.

Here are some of the sites offering free tax preparation services for those who qualify.

Kansas City Public Library: Central Library at 14 W. 10th St., Plaza Branch at 4801 Main St., Kansas City, North East Branch at 6000 Wilson Road, Kansas City

Don Bosco Center, 535 Garfield Ave., Kansas City

Full Employment Council, 1740 Paseo Blvd., Kansas City

El Centro Johnson County, 11811 S. Sunset Drive, Olathe

El Centro Wyandotte County, 2220 Central Ave., Kansas City, Kan.

NorthWest Communities Development Corp., 217 S. Cedar Ave., Independence

Community Services League, 404 N. Noland Road, Independence

Trails West Library, 11401 E. 23rd St., Independence

Lee's Summit City Hall, 220 S.E. Green St., Lee’s Summit

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