Assemblyman Mark Stone will kick off the 2016 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) season on Friday, January 29 at the Cesar Chavez Library in Salinas. Hosted by the Tri-County VITA partners, the event celebrates EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) Awareness Day. Partners want to ensure that local taxpayers collect all the credits for which they are eligible – state and federal – so they can get the biggest refund possible. New this year is the EITC for eligible Californians, the result of a bill authored by Assembly Member Stone. Stone was joined by:
Paul Farmer, President of the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce,
Jane Parker, Chair of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors,
Mary Lou Goeke, President and CEO of United Way Santa Cruz
Katy Castagna, President and CEO of United Way Monterey County
"Even if you don’t owe any tax, we encourage you to file a tax return and claim the EITC – money you can use for groceries, rent, utilities and other bills,” said Castagna. “It goes beyond money – children in families who receive EITC do better in school and go on to earn 17% more over their career. That’s increased financial stability across generations!”
Why is EITC Important?
• IRS estimates that $21,166,750 in EITC payments goes unclaimed in Monterey County each year.
• Approximately 12,000 filers are eligible and the average return is $1,773
• In 2013, $86,667,000 in EITC payments were claimed in Monterey County – 80% was spent locally resulting in an economic stimulus of $121,333.800.
• Students who families receive EITC score better on tests and are more likely to go to college
VITA provides free tax prep – both Federal and state – for anyone who made less than $54,000 in 2015. A service of UWMC, the goal of VITA is to put more money in the pockets of working people. Last year, VITA completed 2,562 returns, totaling $3.4M in federal tax refunds and resulting in a local economic stimulus of $4.7M. Volunteers are trained and certified by the IRS to help eligible taxpayers claim EITC and Childcare credits to maximize their refunds. Taxpayers who earned less than $62,000 are eligible to use our free software at www.MyFreeTaxes.com. For many low- and moderate-wage earners, their refund is their biggest paycheck of the year.
"EITC puts money back into the pockets of working families and individuals and give them more dollars for necessities such as groceries, rent, transportation and child care,” said Castagna. “In 2013, more than $131 million in EITC was returned to the tri-county area. That’s money spent at our local businesses, improving the economy for all.”
Our Community Neees VITA and the EITC:
• In the Tri-County area (Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz County), one-third of households are struggling to meet their basic needs (housing, food, transportation, health care, taxes and childcare)
• Nearly half of all households spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.
• More than half of the households with children under struggle with economic security.
• In today’s economy, a family of four would need to hold more than 3 full-time, minimum wage jobs to achieve economic security.
Alliance on Aging runs a similar tax program for seniors and is able to take appointments. VITA operates sites throughout Monterey County on a weekly basis and provides computers and assistance for people who want to prepare their own returns.
To learn more or to find a neighborhood site, visit UnitedWayMCCA.org/free-tax-prep or call 2-1-1.