Gov. Steve Beshear joined Berea College President Lyle Roelofs, local officials and representatives from regional Asset Building Coalitions at Berea College on January 31 to launch an annual campaign urging eligible Kentuckians to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable federal tax credit for low- and middle-income working individuals and families.
“This tax credit is an extremely valuable resource for thousands of Kentuckians who are employed, but earn low wages,” Beshear said. “We want to make certain that every Kentuckian who is eligible for this benefit receives it, so I encourage everyone filing taxes this season to visit our website to see if you of your family qualify for the EITC.”
Eligibility for the EITC is based on income and household composition, as is the amount of the credit. Families who earned up to $51,567 in 2013 could be eligible for EITC.
In tax year 2013, Kentuckians filed nearly 401,000 EITC claims for more than $923 million in benefits statewide. The average awarded credit was $2,299; however, an estimated 15 to 20 percent of eligible workers still do not claim their EITC benefits, mostly because of lack of awareness, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Beshear announced a list of nearly 200 free tax-preparation sites across the state where trained and IRS-certified volunteers will assist Kentuckians with filing their taxes and applying for EITC. To find information about these Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, including addresses, phone numbers and if appointments are required, visit http://assistance.ky.gov.
“The goal of the VITA program is to provide families with opportunities for economic empowerment by helping them to avoid high preparation fees while providing financial education and asset building opportunities,” said Tracy Featherly, Berea College VITA site coordinator. “In my experience, most eligible families are unaware of the beneficial programs that VITA offers, so it is important for us to develop our outreach to more families that really need these services.”
This initiative is especially important to Berea College because its primary mission is to provide an affordable education to students whose families would likely benefit from the EITC.
“It’s our hope that through the great work of the governor’s office, the Kentucky Asset Building Coalition and other statewide partners, and through our work at Berea College, more citizens of Kentucky will be able to take advantage of the EITC services,” says Lyle Roelofs. “This is so important because many of our students come from Kentucky and we know the difficult financial situation of so many families.”
Berea College provides an affordable, high-quality, liberal arts education to students, who because of their financial circumstances cannot otherwise afford it.
Other statewide EITC awareness partners and coalitions include the IRS, the United Way of Kentucky, Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, Community Action Kentucky, 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.