Local households that earned $54,000 or less in 2016 can receive free tax help in person through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance effort led by United Way California Capital Region in Sacramento and Placer counties. The program will kick off with a Super Saturday event from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Jan. 28 at Grant Union High School in Sacramento, where IRS-certified volunteers will provide free basic tax return preparation with electronic filing. Volunteers will inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify, such as the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and Cal EITC), Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.
For information and a list of Super Saturday events and weekday tax help sites, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org/VITA or call (916) 498-1000. Sacramento residents can call 2-1-1. VITA is a national IRS program that offers free help to people who make a limited income and need help preparing their tax returns.
Local households that made $64,000 or less in 2016 can qualify to file their state and federal taxes online for free at MyFreeTaxes.com, sponsored by United Way Worldwide. The site provides local residents with free, easy tax help they can trust so they can maximize refunds and credits. The site helps people save an average of $200 in tax preparer fees, guiding users through federal and state filing with software powered by H&R Block. Users need a valid email address and income forms. The nine-year-old program is available in all 50 states.
“We want to make sure more Sacramento-area households are financially healthy, and that starts with not spending unnecessary money on tax preparation and making sure they receive all of the refunds to which they are entitled,” said Stephanie Bray, United Way California Capital Region president and CEO.
Both the in-person and online filing opportunities are designed to help households receive the maximum credit of $6,000 through EITC and Cal EITC. This is the second year that California is offering a state Earned Income Tax Credit to benefit California’s working families. Many Cal EITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to low income, however if they do file, they can claim state and federal EITC credits for which they are eligible. Those who file for EITC, Cal EITC or the Child Tax Credit should plan for their refund to be delayed, as a law requires the IRS to hold those refunds until Feb. 15.
“We want to encourage people to plan ahead for this delay instead of signing a refund anticipation loan that will end up being very costly in the long run,” Bray said. “And don’t pay a preparer if you qualify for free services. You won’t receive your refund sooner.”
Sponsors of United Way’s tax help programs include the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, SAFE Credit Union, SMUD, United Way California Capital Region and Wells Fargo. For a list of partners, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org/VITA.
United Way California Capital Region is leading these tax help programs to ensure more households are financially healthy. This work is part of United Way’s Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, the local United Way now believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones for success in college. Household financial well-being is a key factor in student success. To donate or volunteer, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org.