Free Tax prep

Phyllis Jeffers, right, picks up information Thursday to take to her car and fill out for Angela Smith, Owensboro Community & Technical College site coordinator, left, in order to have her taxes prepared free of charge by the Green River Area Building Coalition.

The Green River Asset Building Coalition had 22 regional sites open a few weeks ago. Then, the coronavirus, or COVID-19, hit Kentucky in early March.

GRABC, which provides free tax preparation services for low-to moderate-income residents, which has been doing drop-off services up until last week to aid in social distancing measures, has closed most of its sites due to COVID-19. One of the closed locations includes the GRABC free tax preparation site in The Home Place Senior Citizens Center in Calhoun.

“We’ve had to alter our plan to keep social distancing,” said Tina Lynch, GRABC executive director.

Up until last week, hybrid sites were not allowing walk-ins. Instead, volunteers met clients at the door and requested Social Security cards, driver’s licenses and bank information for automatic deposits. Volunteers made copies of those documents while clients fill out interview sheets outside the building.

The last two days the OCTC site was open it operated under this social distancing plan, which Lynch calls a hybrid or drop-off site.

Volunteers completed 43 tax returns in the college parking lot on March 17. The following day, they completed 35 tax returns in the rain, Lynch said.

However, GRABC announced on March 30 that all sites would close temporarily and will not offer drop-off tax preparation services, according to Faye May, McLean County site coordinator for GRABC.

“As a result of COVID-19, we have closed the majority of our tax sites to protect our volunteers and the greater community ... Please be patient and safe. Once we are given the all-clear and the locations of our tax sites open back up, our volunteers will return to assist you,” Lynch said in an automated message for her office number.

Due to COVID-19, the tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15. Besides, residents who do not owe a tax bill can file up to three years later and receive their retroactive refunds, so there is no hurry, Lynch said.

She doesn’t want people to feel no alternative exists other than paid tax preparation services, where filing fees can eat a good percentage of a refund.

Those who are able, Lynch said, can turn in necessary documents virtually. She said anyone who wishes to do so can contact her by phone or email.

Residents who have access to the internet can file at myfreetaxes.com.

As soon as possible, Lynch plans to reopen GRABC sites. Many regional residents are eligible for earned income tax credits, which provide sizeable refunds that can give a financial boost during this time of temporary job losses.

GRABC continues to do all it can to help people with tax filings. For more information about drop-off site locations, contact Lynch at 270-685-1603 or tinalynch@GRABC.org.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@mcleannews.com, 270-691-7360

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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