Free help for Fresnans to claim low-income tax credit

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.

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.

Details: Cal4EITC4Me.org; 559-237-2961, ask for either Martin or Norma.