- The OC Free Tax Prep program aims to increase the number of financially stable families in OC
- New online booking available for in-person appointments; self-filing online also available
Irvine, CA (February 5, 2024) – As part of its United for Financial Security℠ Initiative, Orange County United Way is once again offering free tax preparation and electronic filing to low- and moderate-income individuals and families through its popular OC Free Tax Prep program.
“OC Free Tax Prep positively impacts the financial health and resiliency of Orange County residents,” said Susan B. Parks, president and CEO of Orange County United Way. “In 2023, we were able to prepare 16,127 tax returns, and our capacity to assist underserved residents continues to grow this year through partnerships with new agencies. Our goal is to not only help simplify the tax filing process for residents but also to educate and raise awareness of available tax credits.”
OC Free Tax Prep was established in 2013 to help qualifying individuals keep more of their hard-earned money and increase the number of financially stable households in Orange County. To date, 4,619 program volunteers have contributed more than 135,600 hours to complete 163,261 returns, which amounts to more than $32.5 million saved in tax preparation fees.
The program offers two ways of filing – in-person with an appointment, which can now be scheduled online, where an IRS-certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) preparer files for you or do it yourself online at MyFreeTaxes.com. There are 35 VITA sites in Orange County this year at locations including community resource centers, churches, and schools. Households that earned less than $64,000 in 2023 are eligible for free tax filing services.
New partner organizations this year include the Asian American Senior Citizen Service Center (AASCSC) in Santa Ana, St. Basil Church in San Juan Capistrano, the Tustin Family and Youth Center, and University of California, Irvine. Multilingual preparers are available in most locations.
For households earning less than $30,950 in 2023, the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) may qualify them for hundreds or even thousands of extra dollars in cash back credits. In addition to CalEITC, they may also be eligible for the Federal EITC if they earn less than $63,398 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. The CalEITC applies to tax filers who use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. If anyone who qualifies for CalEITC has children younger than 6 years of age, they may also be eligible for the Young Child Tax Credit. This initiative helps struggling family’s ability to provide for their children, pay for rent, food, and medical expenses, while simultaneously stimulating the local economy. Young adults between the ages 18 and 25 who are current or former foster youth may also qualify for the Foster Youth Tax Credit.
In 2023, Orange County United Way and its coalition partners filed 16,127 tax returns, securing $15.1 million in federal and state refunds for individuals and families. Over $2.8 million returned was through the federal EITC, with $4.2 million saved on tax preparation fees through OC Free Tax Prep – amounting to an estimated $19.3 million impact in Orange County.
“OC Free Tax Prep is an impactful program that allows us to do what we do best – serve hardworking residents of Orange County and support their financial security,” said Andrew Fahmy, Executive Director of Orange County United Way’s United for Financial Security Initiative. “We hope to serve many more individuals, families and older adults this tax season and look forward to fostering a new partnership with AASCSC, as well as continuing our work with trusted partners like Norman P. Murray Center and Laguna Woods PC Club, which serve our senior and elderly populations.”
The deadline to file taxes is April 15, 2024.
ABOUT ORANGE COUNTY UNITED WAY
Orange County United Way is committed to breaking barriers and improving lives for everyone who lives here. Through our key initiatives—United for Student Success℠, United for Financial Security℠, and United to End Homelessness℠—we are working to ensure local students succeed, families gain financial security, and our unhoused neighbors find a place to call home. We also offer vital support via 2-1-1 Orange County (211OC), a key service that connects thousands of our most vulnerable residents with health and human service resources. We are committed to caring for one another. That’s #TheOCWay.
This year, Orange County United Way celebrates 100 years of purpose and impact in Orange County. To learn more or discover how you can help, visit UnitedWayOC.org.
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Media Contact: Annie Noebel, firstname.lastname@example.org, (949) 525-7024