With the tax deadline emerging on April 18, United Way of San Diego County and 211 San Diego, in partnership with the Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition encourage low and moderate-income individuals and families that qualify to claim tax credit before its too late.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) helps low- to moderate-income workers and families reduce the taxes they owe or increase their refund and put more money toward rent, school tuition, utilities, groceries, and other expenses. Combined with the state CalEITC and the Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC), taxpayers can receive a substantial amount of dollars back on their taxes.
In 2021, Gov.Gavin Newsom and the California State Legislature expanded the CalEITC and YCTC to all California tax filers, including undocumented Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) filers who meet the other eligibility criteria. Every year, the EITC coalition provides information to promote the program and raise awareness of available tax credits and free tax preparation that helps eligible county residents maximize their returns.
“Our team here in other sites around the county has been working tirelessly to ensure that eligible participants received the advice and services they deserve to get the cashback in their pockets. There are still a few more days left to file your taxes, you just need to call 211. To see if you're eligible and learn how to file for free. They will help you connect with the information, appointments, and services you need,” said Teresa Smith, CEO of Dreams for Change.
According to San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher, one in five people misses out on EITC.
“We want working-class folks to be able to get that money that could go in their pockets and help them. We're just highlighting awareness right at the deadline, and want folks to know, there are resources to help them,” Fletcher said.
The EITC is among the most powerful anti-poverty programs in the nation. According to the EITC Coalition, research has proven it improves the health and educational outcomes of its beneficiaries.
“I was never familiar with the free program. It is a blessing because I'm a single mom of two kids, and an extra few hundred dollars is a plus. Everybody was friendly was fast, efficient, nice, and local. I look forward to another year using the program," said Crystal, a client that went through the program.
It is through awareness and free services available in multiple languages that allows the collaborative to address the economic inequality exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The EITC Coalition is a body of organizations and providers dedicated to providing a clear pathway to tax assistance for families in our community. The Coalition is anchored by a partnership among United Way of San Diego County, 211 San Diego, the IRS, and the County of San Diego.
Last year, 211 San Diego answered about 27,000 calls from people inquiring about the EITC, and about 17,000 were screened for eligibility, and scheduled about 15,000 appointments, according to William York, 211 San Diego, President & CEO.
“We encourage people to reach out to 211. They'll help you find someone to help you on the phone, they'll get an appointment for you like we're going to do everything we can to make it as easy as possible,” Fletcher said.
Individuals and families can call 2-1-1 to see if they qualify for the federal EITC, the CalEITC, and the YCTC. If you are eligible for free tax preparation, 211’s Community Connectors can schedule an appointment for you.