Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, reminds taxpayers of two key benefits as they approach the April 15 deadline to file taxes:
• Free preparation assistance is available from California’s Franchise Tax Board’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and a Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program to help individuals with limited incomes complete their tax returns.
•And families should apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit, benefit worth thousands of dollars for working people who earn low or moderate incomes. Starting this year, Cal EITC has expanded eligibility to low-income workers aged 18-24 and individuals 65 and up.
People seeking help with their taxes can visit www.ftb.ca.gov/individuals/vita/. Assistance is available through April 15 and is limited to full-year residents. The VITA program specializes in assisting disabled taxpayers, those with low to limited income and non-English speaking taxpayers. The TCE program provides free income tax assistance for middle- or low-income taxpayers, giving special attention to those 60 and older.
The Cal EITC program can be a game-changer for many low-income families. Last year, more than 1.4 million people claimed the credit, totaling nearly $350 million. Those who are eligible may also be eligible for other programs including Medi-Cal, CalFresh and CalWORKs. For an online calculator to determine your benefit, visithttps://caleitc4me.org/.
In addition, the IRS has its Taxpayer Advocate Service, which provides an independent system to ensure unresolved tax problems are handled promptly and fairly. For information go here https://www.irs.gov/taxpayer-advocate. And free tax preparation programs are supported by nonprofit groups like the United Way and AARP.