County Helps Families File Taxes for Free

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The W-2s and other tax documents have been showing up in mailboxes. Now it’s time to sit down and start working on the returns.

The County is again helping low-income families and individuals file their income taxes and increase the amount they get back.

Free tax preparation services are part of the annual Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) campaign, which the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) and its partner organizations launched in 2003.

From Jan. 31 through April 15, about 400 volunteers will help low-income residents prepare and file taxes electronically at about 100 sites across the region.

The goal is to help residents take advantage of EITC, the federal government’s largest assistance program to support low-income families. 

“Too many San Diego County residents are missing this opportunity to claim their Earned Income Tax Credit,” said Supervisor Greg Cox, County Board of Supervisors. “With the help of 2-1-1 San Diego and our volunteers, people will be able to keep more of their income because there is no cost for filing their return.”

This tax filing season, residents will have three options to get their taxes done:

  1. Easy – go to a site and have a volunteer prepare the tax return or
  2. Easier –go to a site with a computer and prepare the taxes themselves; volunteers will be there to offer assistance or
  3. Easiest – go to www.MyFreeTaxes.com to complete taxes on their own

People wishing to use the free service should call 2-1-1 to make an appointment at a site near them. In addition, college student interns and volunteers will screen families to determine if they qualify for CalFresh benefits (formerly known as food stamps).

“This year we’re making it easier for people to file their returns and apply for CalFresh,” said HHSA Director Nick Macchione. “Thanks to our partnership with United Way of San Diego County, the IRS, AARP, local colleges and universities and many other organizations, more and more low-income people are filing their taxes and claiming their EITC.”

Established in 1975, EITC is a federal program designed to help low-income families and individuals out of poverty by helping them keep more of their income. The IRS estimates that between 20 and 25 percent of eligible individuals do not claim their EITC each year.

Individuals and families who worked in 2013 and earned less than $51,000 could qualify for as much as $6,044 in EITC tax credit. Residents must file a tax return to be eligible.

Last year, more than 43,500 federal and state returns were filed by EITC campaign volunteers, bringing $53.9 million in state and federal tax dollars to working families and the local economy. About $10.4 million were EITC dollars.

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

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact