United Way Offering Virtual Free Tax Help

With the tax deadline extended to July 15, households throughout the Sacramento region are still eligible for free virtual help preparing taxes and claiming credits this year, saving an average of $200 in preparer fees and earning up to $6,500 in credits. United Way California Capital Region’s Free Tax Prep program is partnering with GetYourRefund.org to provide virtual assistance. More households are eligible to participate through the partnership – those earning $66,000 or less in 2019. Qualified households can upload documents online and a United Way IRS-certified volunteer will call  them to help claim the maximum tax credits for which they are eligible before submission, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and CalEITC). To get started: GetYourRefund.org/?s=UWCCR.

“More than a third of households in the Sacramento region were a paycheck away from homelessness before the pandemic hit – that number is going to rise in the coming months,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “United Way’s Free Tax Prep program not only saves them preparer fees, it puts money back in their pockets through tax credits that many people don’t even know they are eligible for. For some families, receiving $6,500 in tax credits can mean the difference between paying rent and living on the streets.”

Age qualification for CalEITC expanded last year to include ages 18-24 and working adults ages 65 and up, giving more taxpayers the opportunity to earn credits, including those who are self-employed. Many CalEITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to low income; however if they file, they can claim state and federal credits.

This tax year, California introduced the new Young Child Tax Credit. To qualify for the credit, taxpayers must be able to claim a child under age 6 on their 2019 tax return and have earned less than $30,000 for the year. The Young Child Tax Credit can increase the state refund by an additional $1,000.

More than $11 million in refunds were claimed across the Sacramento region in 2019 through United Way’s program, up more than $1 million from the previous year. More than 9,000 local households received free help from nearly 500 volunteers in 2019, saving a total of $1.8 million in tax preparation fees. Last year, $18.6 million was received in Sacramento County from CalEITC refunds. With new increases to CalEITC and the Young Child Tax Credit, Franchise Tax Board estimates that Sacramento County could receive up to $40 million this coming tax season.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.