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May 20, 2022

United Way Monterey County offers free tax preparation services

MONTEREY COUNTY — United Way Monterey County has launched its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) free tax preparation service, which is offered to county residents through Tax Day, April 16.

United Way provides VITA tax preparation in English and Spanish for anyone who earned up to $58,000 in 2021.

Taxpayers have the following options to use this service: make an appointment at a VITA site, bring the required tax documents and a VITA volunteer will prepare the tax returns and provide free e-file; or file free online at myfreetaxes.com.

“United Way has offered this financial support service to our county for 13 years,” said Katy Castagna, president and CEO of United Way Monterey County. “Our main goal is to ensure that working people receive all the tax credits and refunds they are due.”

United Way recruits and trains community volunteers to receive IRS tax certification. VITA volunteers assist taxpayers with program eligibility and determine whether they qualify for credits, such as the federal EITC, state CalEITC and Young Child Tax Credit. 

Federal Earned Income Tax (EITC) is a tax credit for working people who have earned a low-to-moderate income. Unlike the CalEITC, only people with Social Security numbers qualify. If a taxpayer qualifies, they may see a reduced tax bill or a bigger refund. 

California Earned Income Tax (CalEITC) is a cash-back tax credit that provides refund to California’s working families and individuals. The amount of CalEITC a taxpayer gets depends on their income and family size. Taxpayers may qualify for the CalEITC if they are at least 18 years old or have a qualifying child or if they have earned income of $30,000 or less. 

The Young Child Tax Credit was introduced in tax year 2019. If a taxpayer qualifies for CalEITC and they have a child under the age of 6 as of the end of the tax year, they may qualify for up to $1,000 through this credit. 

Most of the ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) users previously did not qualify for CalEITC or the Young Child Tax Credit because these two credits required a Social Security number. Starting Jan. 1, 2021, ITIN filers had been eligible for both tax credits.

“We are thankful for VITA volunteers who play a vital role in this process,” Castagna added. “Last year, they completed 1,402 federal and state tax returns for Monterey County residents.”

VITA service is offered in partnership with the IRS, Monterey Peninsula Foundation, State of California, United Ways of California, and private and corporate donors.

For eligibility requirements and to make an appointment at a participating VITA tax site, visit the VITA web page at UnitedWayMCCA.org/freetaxprep. To find out if a taxpayer is eligible for a credit, text “myrefund” to 211-211.

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