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“Tis the Season to Recruit Tax Prep Volunteers

December 9, 2011

FRANKFORT, Ky. - 'Tis the season for giving – and the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (KDVA) is looking for folks to give their time to help working families file their taxes next year, at no cost to them.

The organization's Kentucky Asset Success Initiative (KASI) and its regional partners across the state are searching for volunteers. Vickie Johnson, KDVA's Western Kentucky economic justice coordinator, says they must be willing to be certified by the IRS to prepare taxes.

"The Kentucky Asset Success Initiative serves any low- to moderate-income families. The income cap for our services is a household income of $50,000. We're looking for people who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit."

Johnson says the free tax preparation program saves working families on average of $200 in tax filing fees and also keeps them from taking out high-interest refund anticipation loans. In 2010, KASI filed taxes for more than 11,000 families, prompting more than $17 million in federal and state tax refunds for them.

The volunteers don't have to be tax experts, as they receive training and certification by the IRS, she says.

"They're ordinary folks, some of whom work in social service fields, some are small businesspeople; some work in factories. We have volunteers that really run the spectrum."

KDVA also offers free tax preparation services to help taxpayers understand their returns and claim tax credits for which they're eligible, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which lessens the financial stress felt by those struggling to make ends meet. Johnson says the IRS estimates that 15 to 20 percent of eligible households do not claim the EITC.

"When times are tough, and it's hard to pay bills, and there's unemployment in the household, that's when people get stressed out and tensions rise – and we want healthy communities in our state."

Last year, six coalitions throughout the state had 460 volunteers, who gave more than 25,000 hours of their time. Trainings begin Dec. 15 and continue through early January.

Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY