COUNTY OFFERS FREE TAX PREPARATION AND HELP FOR LOW INCOME PEOPLE TO CLAIM TAX CREDITS

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East County News Service

January 29, 2016 (San Diego) -- If you are a low-income family or individual, save your money. The County can help you file your taxes completely free—and assist you in receiving federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits that could amount to thousands of dollars in your pocket.

Starting now and continuing through April 15, more than 500 volunteers will help prepare and file taxes electronically at about 92 locations across the county. However, you have to be low income to qualify for this free service.

“We want to help low-income working residents claim their Earned Income Tax Credit and increase the amount they get back and keep,” said Supervisor Greg Cox, County Board of Supervisors.

Spearheaded by Supervisor Cox in 2003, the free tax preparation services are part of the annual Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) campaign, which the County Health and Human Services Agency, the IRS, AARP, United Way of San Diego and 2-1-1 San Diego conduct every year. 

Through the campaign, residents take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the federal government’s largest assistance program to support low-income families.

This filing season, you could have your taxes prepared for you, prepare them yourself with assistance from a volunteer, or do them on your own by visiting www.MyFreeTaxes.com.

To receive free services, all you have to do is call 2-1-1 to make an appointment at a site near you.

“Thanks to the tax preparation campaign, our low-income residents get to keep more of their hard-earned money,” said Nick Macchione, director of the County Health and Human Services Agency. “This program is helping them to get out of poverty, and helping our region to thrive.”

Earned Income Tax Credit is a federal program established in 1975. This year, California is also offering a state version to supplement the federal credit. The IRS estimates that between 20 and 25 percent of eligible individuals do not claim their Earned Income Tax Credit each year.

Individuals and families who worked in 2015 and earned less than $53,505 could qualify for as much as $6,269 in federal tax credit through the program. The California credit could be as much as $2,653. Residents must file a tax return to be eligible for both credits.

Last year, volunteers filed more than 28,000 federal tax returns, bringing about $13 million in Earned Income Tax Credit dollars to local working families and individuals.

The EITC Campaign is part of Live Well San Diego, the County’s vision to improve the health and quality of life of local residents and help them to become self-sufficient.