FEBRUARY: Tax Credits & Tax Help
Throughout California, millions of people are working hard to make life better for themselves and their families. WIC agencies can play a critical role in informing participants about their eligibility for various tax credits. The California Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is still going strong and, as always, the federal EITC and Child Tax Credit (CTC) are programs that in 2016 lifted an estimated 6.5 million people out of poverty, including 3.3 million children. The severity of poverty was reduced for an additional 21.2 million families, including 7.7 million children.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, recipients tend to use the credit to pay bills, reduce debt, make large purchases such as cars, pay rent, or make a security deposit for a rental unit. Health Affairs published studies showing that the EITC increased household income. Additionally, research had suggested that increased employment resulting from the EITC could result in long-term growth in earnings and increased retirement benefits through Social Security. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the EITC increased lifetime average earnings for women without a college degree by 17 percent.
Remember, these tax credits have NO effect on eligibility for public benefits like MediCal, CalWORKS, or food stamps. And families may be eligible for tax credits worth thousands of dollars – and free help filing their taxes – even if they did not earn enough in 2018 to owe income tax!
Please help deserving WIC households get help filing their taxes so that they can take advantage of these credits!
What Local Agencies Can Do:
1. Learn about the California EITC benefit and share the information with WIC families. You can also visit the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ comprehensive site for EITC Outreach. You’ll find a new video, background and eligibility info, posters, flyers in every language, envelope stuffers, fact sheets, and outreach ideas.
2. Download and copy outreach tools, such as:
- Ready-to-use flyers in any of 24 languages – including those in Spanish and English that you can edit to include local contact information.
- 11x17-inch color posters in English and Spanish – including messages about enrolling in new health insurance coverage, and editable for your specific needs.
- Envelope stuffers in English and Spanish
3. In February, distribute materials to WIC participants. Let them know that if they were employed at any time in 2018, they may be eligible even if they did not earn enough to pay income taxes!
4. Tell WIC families about FREE tax filing assistance. To find the closest help site, call 1-800-906-9887, OR visit http://caleitc4me.org/get-it/. Other options include:
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers provide FREE Income Tax Preparation Assistance. Although sites are not available in every county, you can search for VITA sites on the IRS website by ZIP code, city, or county.
- File tax returns for free online and get information about tax filing at TaxACT Online.
HEALTHY FAMILIES...STRONG COMMUNITIES...BRIGHT FUTURES!
CALIFORNIA WIC ASSOCIATION | 3120 FREEBOARD DR. #101 WEST SACRAMENTO, CA 95691 | PHONE: 916-572-0700