Free Tax Services An Option For Low-Income Workers In Arkansas

Jan 27, 2020

At Little Rock City Hall, Kara Wilkins shares the role Bank On Arkansas for Saturday's Super Tax Day.
Credit David Monteith / KUAR News

Super Tax Day, the annual kick-off event for a series of free tax services for low-income workers, is set for Saturday in several Arkansas cities. Entergy Arkansas has been a sponsor of the event since 2011. The energy provider partners with other state entities and the Internal Revenue Service to help promote the Earned Income Tax Credit, which increases the refund for low and middle-income individuals and families. The Central Arkansas Development Council, whose mission is to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty, is one of this year's partners.

Paul Wells, the planning and development director for CADC said, "Through [the volunteers'] support, CADC filed more than 3,500 returns in 2019. Volunteers returned more than $4.8 million in federal refunds to taxpayers. That meant a savings of more than $70,000 in tax preparation fees."

Kara Wilkins, the director of partner organization Bank On Arkansas+, said her group will be on hand to encourage participants to use part of their refunds to establish bank accounts, rather than relying on check-cashing services or pre-paid cards.

"Whenever families have to do that, they incur some sort of fees and fines, which means that that reduces the amount of money that they actually have going back into their pocket. So having an account, like a Bank On Arkansas account where you have no overdraft fees and it's completely free, helps those families not to have to incur debts that they're getting by going through other non-traditional banking sources."

Bank On Arkansas+ is an initiative led by Arkansas Asset Funders Network based on the model promoted by the national nonprofit Cities for Financial Empowerment.

Saturday's Little Rock event will be first come, first served from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds. Similar events are scheduled that same day in Eudora, Blytheville and Conway. Later in February, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, West Helena and El Dorado will also host events. A complete listing can be found here.