Program aims to increase the number of financially stable families and break cycle of poverty
Irvine, CA, December 10, 2018 – Orange County United Way is offering free tax preparation and electronic filing to low- and moderate-income individuals and families through its OC Free Tax Prep program. The program, staffed by local volunteers, starts January 8, 2019 to help qualifying individuals keep more of their hard-earned money. In the past five years, OC Free Tax Prep has served more than 86,300 taxpayers amounting to more than $75 million in community refunds.
“Every year, low-income residents miss out on millions of dollars in federal and California tax refunds and credits which they are entitled to and deserve – our OC Free Tax Prep program helps these hard-working people keep more of their earnings,” said Susan B. Parks, President and CEO, Orange County United Way. “For many, these tax refunds and credits provide a much-needed boost to help pay for rent, food or medical expenses.”
For households earning less than $25,000, the expanded California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), may qualify them for hundreds or even thousands of extra dollars in their refund. This year, the age eligibility threshold has been lowered to age 18. In addition to CalEITC, they may also be eligible for the federal EITC if they earn less than $55,000, increasing their refund even more.
Each year, millions of low-income Californians miss out on cash back in their pockets because they don’t know they qualify for EITC and don’t claim the credit. In 2015, nearly 1.1 million California taxpayers left $1.9 billion on the table in federal EITC payments. Over the past five years, United Way’s OC Free Tax Prep helped people apply for more than $21,086,695 million in credits.
Households that earned less than $60,000 in 2018 are eligible for free tax filing services. The program offers two ways of filing – online at MyFreeTaxes.com or with support at an IRS-certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site throughout Orange County.
Online filing is powered by H&R Block and offers an easy, safe and secure way for families to file from their own homes.
In person filing can be done at one of the 60 VITA sites in OC, with locations at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools and shopping malls. Multilingual preparers are available upon request. For a full list of VITA locations and more information, visit https://www.ocfreetaxprep.com.
In 2018, Orange County United Way and its coalition partners filed 19,000 tax returns, bringing in $16.3 million in federal and state refunds back to the pockets of hard-working individuals. More than $4.6 million returned was through EITC credits.
The OC Free Tax Prep program is part of a larger United Way Income Initiative to increase the number of financially stable families in Orange County and break the cycle of poverty.
Through OC Free Tax Prep, United Way and its partners are working toward a better tomorrow and a brighter future for all of Orange County.
ABOUT ORANGE COUNTY UNITED WAY
Today’s Orange County United Way is doing more for the Education, Health, Housing and Financial Stability of every person in Orange County. More than a fundraiser, we’re hands-on, delivering more than 50 Community Impact programs countywide. We focus on long-term solutions to the most critical interconnected challenges facing local children and families. FACE 2024 our 10-year community-wide action plan aims to cut the high school dropout rate in half, increase healthy youth by one-third, cut the percentage of homeless or unstably housed children and families in half, and reduce financial instability by 25%. United Way is doing more to make long-term measurable difference in the lives of children and families right here in Orange County. To learn more or do more with us, visit www.unitedwayoc.org.
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Media Contact: Nicole Morrison, firstname.lastname@example.org, (949) 200-6110