LOS ANGELES, Jan. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Greater Los Angeles Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Campaign Partnership, including United Way of Greater Los Angeles, the City and County of Los Angeles, the Office of the Controller Betty T. Ye, Jerome E. Horton, Chairman of the California State Board of Equalization, and the IRS today announced their 10th annual EITC and VITA campaign to encourage qualified low and moderate-income families in Los Angeles to keep more of the money they earn. The 10 year anniversary of Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day is January 29, which marks a nationwide effort to draw taxpayers' attention to its potential benefit, while also highlighting free tax preparation through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
As the largest anti-poverty program for working families, EITC brought in $66.7 billion in refunds to qualified taxpayers nationwide for the 2014 tax year, and $17.4 million in L.A. County, helping to subsidize family income and further drive the local economy. For 2016 (the 2015 tax year), the credit can translate to an average refund of $2,400 for low and moderate-income families with three or more children.
The EITC provides the following benefits for qualified working families:
- Families with three or more qualifying children who earn less than $53,267 (or $47,747 for a single parent) are eligible for up to $6,242;
- Families with two qualifying children who earn less than $49,974 (or $44,454 for a single parent) are eligible for up to $5,548;
- Families with one qualifying child who earn less than $44,651 (or $39,131 for a single parent) are eligible for up to $3,359; and
- Married workers between the ages of 25-64 who earn less than $20,330 (or $14,820 for single) and have no children are eligible for up to $503
The VITA program offers free tax help to individuals and families who made $54,000 or less in 2015. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. Volunteers are trained to provide information about special tax credits such as the federal EITC, California EITC, and Child Tax Credit (CTC). Households with incomes of $62,000 or less in 2015 also have the option of filing their own taxes online for free through the MyFreeTaxes Program. MyFreeTaxes provides free online federal and state tax preparation with virtual filing assistance.
"Last year, more than 42,000 tax returns were filed for free through the VITA Program in Los Angeles County, generating nearly $46 million in total returns, $17.5 million of that from the federal EITC," said Elise Buik, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles. "However, there are many more families who could benefit from EITC and VITA. With more than one in five eligible workers not claiming EITC, billions of dollars are left on the table by American families each year. These funds can help low-income families buy basic necessities such as groceries or clothes, which is why it's critical for workers to be aware of EITC and United Way's VITA program."
Los Angeles VITA sites, supported by the EITC Partnership, can ensure qualified families apply for these credits. Eligible filers can save an average of $200 in tax preparation fees by using VITA or MyFreeTaxes.com. To qualify for the EITC, claimants must be qualified working U.S. citizens and individuals with valid Social Security numbers. If a U.S. resident meets all of the qualifications, they are also able to retroactively claim the EITC for a period of up to three years.
"The VITA program provides a free and safe way for low-income families to prepare their taxes and take full advantage of credits like the federal EITC, California's new state EITC, and the CTC," said L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. "This is a great way to keep money in the pockets of families who are working hard to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table. In addition, VITA sites offer financial coaching to help families maintain smart financial habits all year long."
To find one of more than 150 free tax preparation sites in Los Angeles County and for more information about VITA and EITC, individuals and working families can call 1-800-906-9887 or visit the EITC Partnership's website at http://www.greaterlaeitc.org. Information about filing online for free can be found at www.MyFreeTaxes.com.
About the EITC Campaign Partnership
The EITC Campaign Partnership is a broad-based coalition of government agencies, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations and financial institutions who have come together to improve the economic status of L.A.'s working families by leveraging tax time as a wealth-building opportunity. Visit www.greaterlaeitc.org for more information.
About United Way of Greater Los Angeles
United Way of Greater Los Angeles is a nonprofit organization that creates pathways out of poverty by helping homeless people move into housing, providing students with the support they need to graduate high school prepared for college and the workforce, and helping hard-working families become financially stable. United Way identifies the root causes of poverty and works strategically to solve them by building alliances across all sectors, funding targeted programs and advocating for change. For more information, visit www.unitedwayla.org.
SOURCE United Way of Greater Los Angeles