United Way Offers Free Tax Help

Households throughout the Sacramento region are eligible for free virtual help preparing taxes and claiming credits this year, saving an average of $200 in preparer fees and earning up to $8,000 in credits. More households are eligible to participate in United Way California Capital Region’s Free Tax Prep program this year, including those earning $65,000 or less in 2020. 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). The IRS will not begin accepting electronically filed returns until Feb. 12, but United Way recommends filing as soon as tax documents are in hand and it will submit the returns on Feb. 12. To learn more, visit YourFreeTaxPrep.org.

“After a year where many people lost employment and income, it’s more important than ever for households in our region to take advantage of this program that helps people save money on tax preparation fees and ensures they apply for the maximum refund and credits for which they are eligible,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “This program is an important way for our community to jumpstart the local economy in 2021, and it’s a key element of our Square One Project that provides resources for local families so their children can graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college or career.”

This year, more people are eligible to receive the CalEITC and Young Child Tax Credit, including qualifying ITIN holders, after Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1876. Households may be eligible for CalEITC if the taxpayer is at least 18 years old and the household earned less than $30,000 in 2020. 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. Experts recommend everyone files early, noting that many people do not realize that unemployment income is taxable.

United Way’s Free Tax Prep program was shifted online last year when the pandemic and stay-at-home order hit. Even with the pivot to virtual services, United Way’s Free Tax Prep volunteers filed 7,060 returns for the 2019 tax year and put $10.5 million back in the pockets of local families through federal refunds.

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.