A new state Earned Income Tax Credit is providing about $380 million to very low-income working Californians. But there are concerns that much of that money could be left unclaimed because people either aren’t aware of the program or can’t afford tax-preparation help to cash in on it.
CalEITC4Me, a grassroots outreach organization, will hold a free tax preparation and resource fair on Saturday at Fresno’s Manchester Center shopping center to help people claim their share of about $2.3 billion in state and federal EITC funds allocated for California. The tax fair is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the center, at Blackstone and Shields avenues.
Families with income under $54,000 in 2015 can set up an appointment for free tax preparation by calling 559-237-2961 and asking for either Martin or Norma. Representatives of CalEITC4Me estimate that about 50,000 residents in Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties are eligible for as much as $45.9 million in tax credits under the EITC programs.
The deadline this year for filing income taxes for 2015 is April 18.
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Last year, before the state program existed, California had the fourth-lowest participation in the federal EITC program, with families likely to qualify for the credit leaving about $1.8 billion on the table. Most eligible families and individuals who qualify this year are expected to receive an average of about $900, according to CalEITC4Me.
People seeking free tax help at the fair need to bring proof of income for 2015, including W-2 forms from their employer or 1099 forms for other sources of income; documentation of any deductible expenses for the year; a government-issued identification such as a state driver’s license or ID card; a Social Security card for each member of the family; bank or savings account information for direct deposit of tax refunds; proof of health insurance coverage; and their 2014 tax return if it is available. Spanish-language translators will also be available.
Saturday’s tax prep fair will also include other services and resources including medical screenings, information on other programs, and a free bag of groceries while supplies last.