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Education Key Element in Free Tax-Prep Assistance

Education is a key part of free tax-preparation assistance in Kentucky. (Greg Stotelmyer)
Education is a key part of free tax-preparation assistance in Kentucky. (Greg Stotelmyer)
April 4, 2016

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - Just ask a woman who helps others file their taxes. She says there's "a lot of good" in offering free tax-preparation to low-and-moderate income residents.

Over the last four years, that's been part of tax preparer Christy Beaty's job with Community Action of Southern Kentucky. She's helped hundreds of people in the Bowling Green area get their taxes done, educating them on the special tax credits they may be able to take advantage of.

"The education is truly centered about the tax return and why they can get what they can get and why they cannot get what they can not get," she says. "What it all means."

Beaty says you would be surprised how many people don't know about, or don't understand, tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

That's the type of assistance Beaty says workers and volunteers with her agency provide people in seven southern Kentucky counties; the type of help typical across the state.

Leslie Talley, director of community services, oversees Community Action of Southern Kentucky's free tax assistance program. She says she's heard of some people paying "enormous fees" and "being taken of advantage of" when they go to get their taxes done.

"We want to make sure that they're getting absolutely whatever they can back in their pocket," says Talley. "And then that puts that money back into the community they live in, back into the economy."

Talley says by helping thousands of low-to-moderate income workers with their taxes, the program is empowering people to realize they can do their own taxes.

"And it gives them the knowledge and their own self-confidence that they know their own resources," she says. "They know their own financial resources and they can do it themselves."

She notes the agency offers self-assist tax sites where people can fill out their own taxes with a certified preparer there to answer questions.

Talley says the people they help range from young adults working a first job to seniors whose sole income is Social Security.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY