Parents: Get Your Money Back!
By Dianne Anderson
Millions of Californians will go for extra digits in their bank accounts over the next few weeks while millions more won’t even try.
From now until the tax deadline filing time, Californians with children can tap up to $6,318 extra Federal Earned Income Tax Credit dollars and up to $2,775 in the California EITC.
Marlene Merrill, spokesperson for Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County, said that each year, low to moderate income families miss out on a lot of money.
CAP, along with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program preparers, are now running their Get it Back! outreach to let people know not to walk away from good money,
Part of the problem is that many earners not making above the earnings threshold of $10,400 often try to avoid the hassle of filing taxes, and lose their EITC refund.
“People don’t want to be bothered,” she said. “They’re not taking advantage of the credits. It is designed for the low income.”
A recent study “Left on the Table” shows just how much money goes unused. Many Californians are qualified, but are also not going after the state EITC, another sizable lump sum. Even earners making less than $20,000 without qualifying children could get $510 back.
“Based on the data examined for tax year 2015, estimates indicate that California residents failed to claim over $2.3 billion in Federal EITC payments for which they are eligible,” the report says.
The report, a study by Antonio Avalos, Ph.D., an economics professor at California State University, Fresno, captures just how much of the Earned Income Tax Credit is being left behind. The program started in the mid-70’s to help alleviate poverty, however, more money is left behind in recent times than over a decade ago.
“In 2015, nearly 1.1 million Californians left on the table $1.9 billion in federal EITC payments, which is 69.2 percent higher than the $1.1 billion left in unclaimed in 2006 by 800,000 Californians,” the report said.
CAP is providing free tax preparation and free filing for earners making up to $54,000. Earners with families and incomes up to $66,000 may also receive EITC.
On April 7, the Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino is also partnering with AARP for their third and the last Saturday event to be held at various locations throughout the county where free IRS certified volunteers will be available. That event will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at SBCAP 696 S. Tippecanoe Ave. in San Bernardino.
CAP is also continuing to take appointments by phone for tax filing help during the week, with on-site walk-ins on Monday and Thursday.
April 17 is the deadline to file taxes.
There are other benefits that filers may qualify for, including the Child Tax Credit.
To get the refund, filers may have to put some energy into gathering up all the required paperwork.
CAP recommends filers come prepared with their 2016 federal tax return, Social Security card or ITIN number for each household member, current valid government-issued photo identification, W2 and 1099 forms in the past year, income and expense documentation, interest and dividend statements, unemployment, social security, daycare expenses and information of provider, 1095A, 1095B or 1095C health insurance coverage statements or form.
According to CalEITC4Me, a community organizing program to connect California families with the credit, reports that over 90% of all money from California’s EITC goes to families with children. Of those, four of five children that benefit from the program are children of color.
Many filers may still not know about the new California EITC program, which started two years ago.
The CalEITC4Me program claims the program can have a big impact on lifting those in poverty and benefit the state economy. So far, the nonprofit claims it has helped over 800,000 families claim over $2 billion in state and Federal EITC since 2016.
“This year CalEITC4Me has doubled-down on creative ways to reach every eligible Californian, knowing how critical this tax credit is for their financial security – especially for women and children who benefit most. With one month to go before tax day, we’re thrilled that more than half a million people have already enrolled and have put the campaign into overdrive to reach even more,” said Joe Sanberg, founder of CalEITC4Me.
To get taxes filed free, call CAP San Bernardino for an appointment at 909-723-1561