Did you know that if your household earned less than $60,000 in 2018, you may be eligible to file your tax return for free? Orange County United Way has teamed up with its coalition partners to offer free tax preparation and electronic filing services for low- and moderate-income families and individuals through its OC FREE TAX PREP program.
Millions of dollars go unclaimed every single year because Orange County residents do not realize they are eligible for tax refunds and credits such as the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) and the federal EITC. Orange County United Way wants to put more money back in the pockets of residents to promote financial stability and break the cycle of poverty, and the OC FREE TAX PREP program is one way to do it.
What Would You Do with an Extra $6,000? Take Advantage of Tax Credits
If your household earned less than $55,000 in 2018, you may be eligible to receive anywhere from $200 to more than $6,000 through the CalEITC and federal EITC. Plus, for the 2019 tax season, CalEITC expanded the age range for those who qualify, meaning workers age 18 and older – including senior citizens – can now benefit. But the catch is, you have to file your taxes in order to receive this refund.
Get Help Filing Taxes
Orange County United Way is connecting residents with free support for both preparing and filing taxes. Visit www.ocfreetaxprep.com to see if you qualify for assistance and to locate services near you. You can file online at MyFreeTaxes.com powered by H&R Block, or work in person with an IRS-certified volunteer tax preparer at one of 60 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites in Orange County.
Through these programs, more than 19,000 tax returns were filed for 2018 generating $16.3 million in federal and state refunds, $4.6 million of which came from EITC credits. That is more money in the pockets of families that need it most, like the Vazquez family:
“We have 3 children ages: 9, 10 and 17 years old. I work as a bartender and my wife as an elementary school assistant. In these difficult times, this free tax preparation service will help us a lot, mostly with our debt payments. The reimbursement we are going to receive is going to help us pay for our credit cards and other expenses. And the best thing about this is that we will have enough money to be able to save up this year.”
Shirley, a single mother of three, also felt the positive impact of these services and their ability to help her access additional resources and refunds:
“My mother taught me to be very thoughtful with my finances and set aside money for rainy days,” Shirley explained. “My goal is to have two to three months of income saved in case I lose my job or to have enough to cover the cost of my car breaking down or for a medical expense. These refunds have allowed me to do that and I greatly appreciate this program and the volunteers here who walk me through the process every year.”
Feel more confident filing your taxes this year knowing that you are not only maximizing your refund, but that you don’t have to worry about how to afford to file because you can do it for free through Orange County United Way’s OC FREE TAX PREP program starting January 8, 2019.