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Free Tax Prep Available for Working KY Families

January 24, 2011

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Mailboxes across Kentucky are being stuffed with W-2's and other tax-related documents as the income tax filing season begins – and a free tax service is helping return some hard-earned greenbacks to the hands of working families and their communities. The Kentucky Asset Success Initiative (KASI) and its regional partners have 64 free tax preparation sites in 60 counties across the state to help Kentuckians with household incomes under $49,000 get their taxes done, free of charge, by IRS-certified volunteers.

KASI is organized by the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association. Vickie Johnson, an economic empowerment coordinator for the Association, says the extra expense of a tax preparer can be a hardship for some.

"We don't want people, who are strapped in this economy anyway, to be paying to have their taxes done when they can do it for free. Most returns will be e-filed, which means if a person has a bank account and wants to have their refund direct-deposited into their bank account, they usually have their refund in seven to ten days."

She says the goals of the free tax preparation sites are to make sure that more eligible families claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and avoid using paid tax preparers or the temptation of those high-interest refund anticipation loans. The free tax preparation service is expanding to far western and northeastern Kentucky to reach even more families in need, adds Johnson.

"The primary thing that we want to make sure that people who are eligible for the credit get is the Earned Income Tax Credit. And, of course, that's one of the government's largest anti-poverty tools."

The Internal Revenue Service estimates that as many as 15 to 20 percent of taxpayers who qualify for the EITC do not claim it. Last year, KASI-operated sites helped 10,298 working families claim tax refunds totaling $13.5 million. In turn, notes Johnson, that generated an estimated $21 million for local economies.

"That's money that taxpayers are getting back in refunds and going out and spending in the community - doing home repairs, car repairs, purchasing goods and services. So, this money really is a boost, not only to Kentucky families, but to the communities in which they live."

More information about the free tax preparation sites is online at www.kdva.org.

Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY