While touting free tax-preparation services Monday, Gov. Steve Beshear urged eligible Kentuckians to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, a refundable credit for low- and middle-income working people.
"This tax credit is an extremely valuable resource for low-wage earning taxpayers struggling in this difficult economy, and I want to make certain that every Kentuckian eligible for this benefit receives it," Beshear said at a news conference with U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray at the United Way of the Bluegrass in Lexington.
Beshear said about 97 percent of the money from credits returns to local communities, thus boosting Kentucky business and benefiting local economies.
In tax year 2010, Kentuckians filed nearly 400,000 earned-income credit claims for a total of more than $876 million in benefits statewide. The average awarded credit was $2,200.
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The Internal Revenue Service says an estimated 15 percent to 20 percent of eligible workers do not claim their tax credits, mostly due to lack of awareness.
Beshear announced a list of nearly 200 free tax-preparation sites across the state where trained IRS-certified volunteers will help Kentuckians file their taxes and apply for the tax credit.
To find information about these sites, including addresses, phone numbers and if appointments are required, go to Assistance.ky.gov.
In addition, beginning Jan. 17, residents of Central and Northern Kentucky areas may dial 2-1-1 to find information on free tax preparation sites near them.
Counties that can access 2-1-1 include Anderson, Boone, Bourbon, Bullitt, Campbell, Carroll, Clark, Fayette, Grant, Henry, Jefferson, Jessamine, Kenton, Madison, Montgomery, Nelson, Oldham, Scott, Shelby, Spencer, Trimble and Woodford.
For information about tax preparation sites outside the 2-1-1 calling area, taxpayers may call Community Action Kentucky at 1-800-456-3452.
Eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit is based on income and household composition, as is the amount of the credit.
Families that earned up to $49,078 in 2011 might be eligible. More extensive qualification information is available at Assistance.ky.gov/.
Beshear applauded organizations across the state that are working to bring awareness and provide easily accessible and free tax assistance to Kentuckians.
The partners and coalitions include the IRS, United Way of Kentucky, Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, Community Action Kentucky, state Department of Revenue, AARP Tax Aide, Central Kentucky Economic Empowerment Project, Louisville Asset Building Coalition, Green River Asset Building Coalition, Barren River Asset Building Coalition, Eastern Kentucky Asset Building Coalition, Northern Kentucky Asset Building Coalition, Northeast Kentucky Asset Building Coalition and the Purchase Area Asset Building Coalition.
"United Way's goal is to help families meet their basic needs while gaining the financial capability to plan for, and accomplish, their long-term financial goals," said Bill Farmer, president of United Way of the Bluegrass.
"Ensuring access to EITC through free tax preparation is critical not only to hardworking individuals receiving these important services and credits, but to the economic vitality of our community as a whole."