County Helps Families File Taxes for Free

Do you pay to have your income taxes prepared?

If you are a low-income family or individual you can save your money. The County can file them for you for free.

Starting today and through April 18, more than 400 volunteers will be filing taxes electronically at about 80 locations throughout the region. Call 2-1-1 to make an appointment at a location near you.

The tax preparation services are part of the County’s annual Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) campaign, which the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) launched in 2003 to get more residents to take advantage of the federal government’s largest assistance program to support low-income families. 

Individuals and families who worked in 2011 and earned less than $48,500 could qualify for as much as $5,600 in EITC tax credit. However, you must file a tax return to be eligible.

The EITC campaign was launched in partnership with United Way, the IRS, AARP, local colleges and universities, and many others. In addition, student interns and volunteers will screen families to determine if they qualify for CalFresh benefits (formerly known as food stamps).

About $77 million EITC dollars go unclaimed each year by San Diego County low-income residents.

“In these difficult economic times, we want to help low-income families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Greg Cox, Vice Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors. “With the help of 2-1-1 San Diego and our volunteers, we can help hard-working families and residents get access to EITC funds.”   

Established in 1975, the EITC is a federal program designed to help low-income families and individuals out of poverty by helping them keep more of their hard-earned wages. The IRS estimates that about 20 to 25 percent of eligible individuals don’t claim the credit.

Since the EITC campaign began, more than $44 million EITC dollars have been returned to San Diego County families and the local economy.

“I encourage families to take advantage of this free service,” said Supervisor Pam Slater-Price. “All taxes are filed electronically, which means you will receive your refund in as little as two weeks.”

In 2011, more than 43,000 federal and state returns were filed through the County’s EITC campaign, bringing $25 million to working families and the local economy. Nearly $8.2 million were EITC dollars.

Furthermore, students from San Diego State University, Cal State San Marcos and Southwestern College will participate in the Thrive San Diego component of the EITC campaign. Last year, students screened 1,752 families and individuals for CalFresh eligibility; 1,099 were potentially qualified to receive benefits. Residents can also apply for CalFresh via phone by calling 2-1-1 San Diego.   

“The EITC Campaign and Thrive San Diego are a win-win for everyone,” said Nick Macchione, director of HHSA, which is leading the County’s Live Well, San Diego! initiative, a 10-year plan to improve the health and quality of life of local residents.

Just like EITC helps put money back in the pockets of individuals and families, CalFresh benefits are a valuable resource that helps families put nutritious food on the table.”

For more information about the EITC Campaign, call 2-1-1.