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County Helps Families File Taxes, Apply for CalFresh

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Piggy bank

January 28, 2011

About $77 million of Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) dollars are unclaimed each year by San Diego County low-income families and individuals.

That’s why the County’s Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) today launched the 2011 EITC Campaign to get more local residents to take advantage of the federal government's largest assistance program.

Starting today and through April 15, hundreds of volunteers—from United Way, the IRS, AARP local colleges and universities, and many others—will offer free tax preparation services at dozens of sites throughout the county and screen families to determine if they qualify for CalFresh (formerly known as Food Stamps). Residents should call 2-1-1 San Diego for information.

“The local EITC campaign helps working families and individuals increase their tax refunds,” said Supervisor Pam Slater-Price. “These are tough economic times. I encourage people to take advantage of their EITC. It’s your money. You earned it.”

Established in 1975, the EITC is a federal program designed to lift low-income families and individuals out of poverty by helping them keep more of their hard-earned wages. However, the IRS estimates that about 20 to 25 percent of eligible individuals don’t claim the credit.

In 2003 the San Diego County Board of Supervisors launched a pilot program to provide no-cost tax preparation assistance to low-income workers. The program was expanded countywide the following year. Since the campaign began, more than $36 million EITC dollars have been returned to local families.

Last tax season, more than 38,000 federal and state tax returns were filed, bringing about $22 million in refunds to working families and the local economy. Nearly $7.2 million were EITC dollars.

Furthermore, last year, students from San Diego State University, Cal State San Marcos, San Diego Community College District and Southwestern College participated in the Thrive San Diego component of the EITC campaign. The students screened 415 families and individuals for “CalFresh” eligibility; of those, 138 completed applications for benefits.

Individuals and families who worked in 2010 and earned less than $48,500 could qualify for as much as $5,600 in tax credit. However, they must file a tax return to be eligible for the EITC.

“Having access to these tax refunds is simple,” said Nick Macchione, HHSA Director. “All you have to do is file an income tax return, which you can do for free at dozens of sites in the county.”

For more information about the EITC Campaign, call 2-1-1.


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