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Study: Free = More than $14 Million Boost for Kentucky

January 5, 2009

Frankfort, KY – January is the beginning of tax season in Kentucky. A new study from the Kentucky Asset Success Initiative (KASI) shows that the free tax preparation service KASI offers generates more than $14 million in economic activity in local communities. KASI calculated the benefit based on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refunds KASI helped families obtain in 2008.

Mary O'Doherty directs the project for the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association. She says families put their EITC refund into local economies quickly, and the money percolates through communities.

"These lower-income families are very likely to use their refunds to make overdue repairs on their cars or their homes, or to buy big-ticket items like a new refrigerator."

O'Doherty says the other goal of the free tax preparation service is to get families who qualify for EITC refunds to avoid using paid tax preparers and/or getting refund anticipation loans. These loans offer immediate cash, but that speed comes with a cost: annualized interest rates of more than 200 percent, according to O'Doherty. Companies that offer the loans say they are a service to families who can't wait for a refund; about one-third of families receiving the EITC refund use refund anticipation loans, according to Internal Revenue Service data.

O'Doherty points out that filing is done electronically at KASI and that means people get a quick refund as well as free tax preparation.

"We want to help them get their taxes done at no cost to them. If they have their taxes done at one our 52 sites, they can get their refund in seven to 10 days."

Information on KASI tax sites can be found at www.kdva.org/tax.html.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - KY