January 11, 2019

California Senate Leader Toni Atkins and Assemblymember Todd Gloria Kick off Initiative to Help Eligible Families Claim Tax Credits and File their Taxes for Free

Free Tax Prep San Diego raises awareness about Earned Income Tax Credits; Households earning up to $55,000 a year can receive tax preparation assistance

SAN DIEGO, CA—Eligible working families in the San Diego region will be able to add up to thousands of dollars to their income tax refund and receive help to prepare and file their taxes for free through Free Tax Prep San Diego. The initiative was kicked off today by elected officials who are supporting the effort and partner organizations.

Free Tax Prep San Diego raises awareness about Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) for eligible working households and promotes the use of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, operated by the EITC Coalition, countywide. Free Tax Prep San Diego is a collaboration between the San Diego City-County Reinvestment Task Force (RTF), the San Diego Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition (led by the United Way of San Diego County), the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC), and founding corporate partner Citi Community Development.

The federal EITC is a refundable credit for low- to moderate-income working individuals and couples, particularly those with children. EITC provides eligible households with a lump-sum payment, which for low-income families is often the largest “refund” amount they’ll receive all year. This provides them the opportunity to purchase vital household items, pay down debts or save for the future. Created in 2015 to supplement the federal EITC, California’s state EITC provides additional assistance to working families.

“One of my proudest achievements when I was Speaker of the Assembly was the creation of the groundbreaking California Earned Income Tax Credit. And over the past two years, the Governor and the Legislature have gone further and expanded the EITC, so that more and more working families benefit from a program that has proven to reduce poverty,” said California Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins.

“In San Diego County, from the 2018 expansion alone, an estimated 63,000 additional people and their families will earn a tax credit that will help them afford some of life’s basic necessities, such as a car repair or new clothes for the kids,” Atkins added. “In 2019 and beyond, we will continue to pursue policies such as the EITC that make things easier for our residents. I thank Citi Community Development and the San Diego Housing Commission for their substantial support.”

“EITC continues to be one of the nation’s most effective tools for lifting low-income working families above the poverty line and boosting our local economy. Millions of workers qualify for EITC, and increasing awareness is critical. I am proud to support this grassroots campaign with Citi Community Development and the San Diego Housing Commission and to help spread the word to our residents about both the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits and the money that may be available,” said California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria.

For the 2018 tax year, low-income families who apply for the tax credits can get back up to $9,310 if they qualify for the maximum amounts of federal and state EITC. Families may qualify for the state EITC if their annual income is less than $24,950 and for the federal EITC if their income is less than $54,884.

“San Diego is an expensive place to live and that’s why it’s so important for working families to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC),” said County Supervisor Greg Cox. “It’s a great way for families to hold onto more of their hard-earned dollars.”

To raise awareness among the households it serves, SDHC will reach out to more than 9,000 low-income households in the City of San Diego that receive Federal rental assistance from SDHC or reside in SDHC-owned affordable rental housing units. In addition, free tax preparation services will be provided at three SDHC affordable rental housing properties: San Diego Square Senior Apartments in downtown San Diego; Calle Primera in San Ysidro; and Vista Verde Apartments in Logan Heights.

“The state and federal Earned Income Tax Credits provide families who need it most with the opportunity to receive a tax refund they can use to improve the quality of their lives, which is an important part of the mission of the San Diego Housing Commission,” said SDHC President & CEO Richard C. Gentry.

These efforts build on the expansion of Free Tax Prep San Diego that began last year with support from Citi Community Development. In 2018, Free Tax Prep San Diego, with the EITC Coalition as the key operator of the free tax prep sites, helped nearly 16,000 San Diego residents file tax returns to receive over $26 million in refunds; of which, nearly 6,000 eligible families received over $12 million in Earned Income Tax Credits. This tax season, Citi Community Development is providing $350,000 in support for the expansion of EITC and Free Tax Prep Awareness campaigns in nine cities and counties in California, including San Diego.

“For the one in three San Diego households that are financially vulnerable, the Earned Income Tax Credit provides a vital cash infusion that can be used to pay down debt or build savings,” said Bob Annibale, Global Director, Citi Community Development and Inclusive Finance. “By raising awareness of the free, high-quality tax preparation services available to eligible filers in San Diego and across California, we aim to ensure that more households access the full value of the tax credits they’ve earned.”

2-1-1 San Diego helps to schedule free tax preparation appointments for eligible households. Free tax preparation services are available for households with income up to $55,000 a year. Free tax filing at www.myfreetaxes.org is available for households with income up to $66,000 a year.

“We are proud to work with our partners to get the word out to hardworking San Diego families,” said William York, Executive Vice President of 2-1-1 San Diego. “These tax credits make a big difference in a household budget for most low-income households.”

To claim the federal and state EITC, families are required to file a tax return. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimates that nearly 20 percent of households eligible to receive the federal EITC do not claim it. Last year in San Diego County, approximately $139 million in EITC was unclaimed, which could assist more than 60,000 families. According to the IRS, in California, approximately $900 million in EITC was unclaimed by nearly 700,000 eligible workers and families across the state.

This year, the tax season runs from the end of January 2019 through the federal tax filing deadline of April 15, 2019. Free tax preparation services will be provided free of charge at locations throughout San Diego County, including four “supersites” based at local malls, operated by Dreams for Change. In addition, Free Tax Prep San Diego, with the EITC Coalition as the key operator, provides tax preparation education workshops; virtual tax preparation services through www.myfreetaxes.org; and screening for tax filers for other public benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Free Tax Prep San Diego was launched at the South Metro Career Center, 4389 Imperial Avenue, which will also be home to the HUD-designated San Diego EnVision Center.

To make an appointment for free tax preparation services, eligible families should call 2-1-1 or visit www.myfreetaxes.org


San Diego Housing Commission
Scott Marshall

Elizabeth Kelly

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