More than 400,000 Kentuckians are eligible for tax refund

A result Berea’s collaborative approach was the decision by Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear to hold a press conference at the Partners for Education home office, highlighting the efforts of the Kentucky Asset Success Initiative (KASI), which is dedicated to increasing individual access to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable federal tax credit for low and middle-income working families and individuals. In 2013, Partners for Education became the convening agency for the Eastern Kentucky Asset Building Coalition, a KASI partner. Other KASI partners 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, Northern Kentucky Asset Building Coalition, Northeast Kentucky Asset Building Coalition and the Purchase Area Asset Building Coalition.

It was during the press conference that was held on January 31, 2014 that Governor Beshear discussed the impact the EITC can have on individual families and on our communities and emphasized that the impact is significant and quantifiable. In 2013, 401,000 Kentuckians applied for the EITC and received an average credit of $2,299. Beshear noted that “97-percent of the money returned to our families because of this credit is spent right back in our communities. It is spent with our local businesses for food, for shelter, for clothing, for transportation.”

Lacy Adams, who has volunteered with KASI to help others complete the paperwork for the EITC, spoke of the great impact the extra money can have on a working class family: “I have prepared many tax returns over the four years I have participated in the VITA [Volunteer Income Tax Assistance] program, and I can tell you that this program changes lives. I had one client tell me they had been diagnosed with cancer in the previous year, and the money could be spent for their medical expenses or to file their taxes. Other clients are so grateful for the refund they will receive because they can now afford to fix the roof that is leaking or the porch that has fallen in.” In other cases, the EITC money can be the difference between taking a part-time class at a local community college or technical school.

Partners for Education Senior Budget Analyst, Tracy Featherly, stated that, “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.”

“Informing Eastern Kentuckians about the EITC is especially important because many counties in the region have low per capita income rates and thus have thousands of eligible EITC recipients,” said Gov. Beshear. “Thank you to Berea College and all the members of the EKABC for their leadership and efforts in spreading the word about this valuable tax credit.”

Pictures of the event below. (click to enlarge)

Lyle Roelofs, Berea College’s President, presents Governor Beshear with a Partners for Education plaque.
Governor Steve Beshear and Berea College President Lyle Roelofs
Terri Sarvis, Senior Relationship Manager for Kentucky from the Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication (SPEC) Division of IRS.
Lacy Adams
Dreama Gentry, Executive Director Partners for Education.
President Lyle Roelofs (standing) makes his opening remarks and introduction of Governor Steve Beshear (sitting)
(From L to R) Rita Smart, Kentucky State Representative, Madison County Judge Executive Kent Clark (Middle), Berea Mayor Steve Connelly
Governor Steve Beshear
Berea College President, Lyle Roelofs, Governor Steve Beshear, Partners for Education Executive Director, Dreama Gentry
Robin Keith, Family Engagement Specialist for Partners for Education, speaks about being a 2013 VITA recipient.
Berea College President, Lyle Roelofs, Governor Steve Beshear