Californians are being urged to file their taxes before the April 18 deadline from United Ways of California.
According to the most recent data from the Franchise Tax Board (FTB), the number of California taxpayers filing for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is down 5% compared to this day last year, and last year, nearly 4 million Californians claimed the credit, less than 35% of those eligible have claimed the credit.
The low filing numbers this close to tax day are concerning advocates, as 64% of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck.
Meanwhile, California residents can receive thousands in tax credits. According to 2Urban, all Californians are encouraged to swiftly visit MyFreeTaxes.org to access United Ways’ free tax filing program and tax education resources, which are available in both English and Spanish.
California is still offering two tax credits programs to help working families stay afloat – the following tax credit programs are available:
- The California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) ranges from $255 to over $3,000 and applies to families with incomes up to $30,000.
- If you qualify for the CalEITC AND have a child under the age of 6, families can file for the Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC), which can provide up to $1,000 per child.
United Ways of California recommends that families don’t use pay-to-file companies to file for these tax credits, which can save them 13-20% of their tax refund, an average of $400.
Over 14 million taxpayers in 2019 might have paid tax software providers while they could have filed for free, according to an audit by the Treasury General for Tax Administration.
“United Ways throughout California are providing IRS-certified volunteers at no cost to these hardworking families, helping them navigate these tax credit programs and get their tax returns submitted early,” said Pete Manzo, United Ways of California president.
“The money can add up to quite a lot. In fact, some families can receive thousands of dollars – depending on their income and family size. With quick, safe, no-cost tax filing programs like MyFreeTaxes.org, all eligible Californians should claim these life-changing tax credits.”
There are still federal tax credits available to families – even if they made no money – like the Child Tax Credit (CTC), which provides up to $3,600 per child under 18 as of December 31, 2021, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which adds up to $6,728 if the household earns less than $57,414.
In March 2022, there were 7.2 million unprocessed tax returns for 2021, far more than the typical one million.
“Utilizing [free tax prep assistance] is essential to someone in need, you never know what someone has to go through in their lives financially,” said Crystal Vargas, a Kern County resident who filed through United Ways’ services.
“I always come here knowing I’ll be taken care of—people don’t need to feel the financial burden of paying someone for their taxes and not knowing what exactly the process is. I plan to spend some of my refund on paying back my student loans and catching up on bills, and the rest to savings for emergencies.”
One in three Californian households does not earn enough money to cover basic needs, so filing by the April 18th deadline is more important than ever.
Filers can find out more information, receive free assistance, and see if they qualify for no-cost tax filing at MyFreeTaxes.org or by texting “taxes” to 211-211 to find a free tax filing location.