Households throughout the Sacramento region are eligible for free 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 will begin taking appointments on Jan. 21. Participating households must have earned $60,000 or less in 2019. Free Tax Prep community events will occur throughout the region during tax season, and help also will be available at dozens of sites during the week in multiple languages in Amador, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties. For appointments or to learn more, visit YourFreeTaxPrep.org or call 2-1-1 or toll-free to (800) 500-4931.
The program kicks off on Feb. 1 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Grant Union High School in Sacramento where IRS-certified volunteers will provide free tax return preparation with electronic filing and help guests claim the maximum tax credits for which they are eligible, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and Cal EITC), Child Tax Credit, American Opportunity Education Credit and the new Young Child Tax Credit.
“More than a third of households in the Sacramento region are a paycheck away from homelessness,” 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. For others, it seeds a child’s college savings account, buys a car to take children to school or provides for a future emergency.”
Age qualification for Cal EITC 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 Cal EITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to low income; however if they file, they can claim state and federal credits. Regardless of who prepares their taxes, those who claim EITC, Cal EITC or Child Tax Credit should plan for their refund to be delayed until end of February, due to federal law.
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 Cal EITC refunds. With new increases to Cal EITC 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.