Qualifying taxpayers can get free preparation help

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By Lisa King

Local residents with an annual income of less than $40,000 can get free tax preparation – if their returns aren’t too complicated.

The program, which is being sponsored by Metro United Way, offers residents of Shelby and Oldham County free tax preparation by IRS-certified volunteers. It is available to any family with a household income less than $40,000 or any individual who makes less than $15,000.

Yolanda Bradford, owner of Accounting Services YLB, said the objective of the offer is twofold.

“We want to promote the earned income credit and relieve the high cost of tax preparation,” said Bradford, whose office is located at 330 Main Street.

In Shelbyville, residents may visit Bradford's office on Mondays and Wednesday from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. In La Grange, people may go to the Community Center at 307 W. Jefferson Street on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Saturday dates in La Grange are March 14 and 28 and April 4 and 11.

Bradford says those interested should make an appointment with her at 647-3027.

Residents should remember to bring verification of all income documents, including W2 forms, a photo ID and social security number.

Bradford and her sister also started the HJW (Hazel Joyce Wiley) Career and Financial Literacy Institute, Inc. in honor of their mother. The goal of this non-profit organization is to increase public awareness of nonprofit activities and to improve the spiritual, physical and psychological well-being of men, women and youth in communities all over the world.

It also strives to promote the growth of the family with a focus on helping individuals build life skills that are practical and spiritual, which are fundamental to permanent transition from dependency to self-sufficiency.  

HJW will be providing financial literacy education to the community, Bradford said.

“Due to the rapid changes occurring in the economy with personal savings at low levels and bankruptcy and foreclosure ratings on the high, it is important to help educate individuals and families in the community,” she said. “Financial literacy can help individuals and families become more aware of common pitfalls and in turn, allow them to avoid those issues while helping them to learn the financial management and planning skills that are needed to make the most of their income, savings, and other assets.

Some of the institute's programs include Budget and Credit Education, Loss Mitigation Counseling, Predatory Lending Workshops, Pre and Post Purchase Homeownership Education and Pre and Post Purchase One-on-One Counseling.

Bradford said her father, George Bradford, has been a tremendous help to her in the endeavor with Metro United Way and tax preparation.

“I am just so proud of Dad, because he doesn't have to do any of this,” she said. “He is retired, but he is down here every day, helping out, answering the phone, and doing everything. He also helped me set up my computer lab.”

Bradford, a retired Army master sergeant,  also volunteers at Clay Street Baptist Church, tutoring the youth in math.

“It always came easy to me,” he said, adding that he likes to volunteer because it gives him a chance to stay social.

“I like helping people,” he said. “And I really like helping kids, helping them to learn the basics in math, because that's so important.”

Some of Bradford's other volunteers who help out with tax preparation are Chris Walford (CUB), Billy Wade (CUB), Brendana Carey (CUB), Denise Harris (School Board), Mary Spurley (greeter), and Dabonna Winstead.


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HJW Career and Financial Literacy Institute, Inc. goals


• Promote decent and affordable housing for families and individuals with low and moderate incomes.

• Provide education counseling and workshops  for first-time home buyers.

• Offer advancement of education and employment opportunities to eligible adults and young adults to obtain job training skills.

• Provide recipients that need support services such as low-cost child cares, health insurance and temporary financial and social assistance in times of crisis.

• Sponsor other services to strengthen the stability of the nonprofit and faith-based communities.

• To educate the public about the funding needs of organizations that provide services or advocacy for disadvantaged, low income, minorities, and under-served communities.