Take Action on EITC Awareness Day
Learn about the Federal & State Tax Credits, Tell a Client, Family Member or Friend How to Get the Credit They've Earned

Blog post Cathy Senderling-McDonald

Today, January 27, is EITC Awareness Day across the nation, a day to promote the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and help ensure low-income workers know how to claim the tax credit they have earned. In California, we want to be sure people also know about the state tax credit known as CalEITC, now available for the second year.

The federal and state tax credits are a welcome benefit for working families any year but especially in a year like this where there are many uncertainties about how federal policy changes might affect families’ and individuals’ health care and economic well-being. While fluidity and uncertainty is what many low-income families are accustomed to in their lives, the year ahead is particularly daunting.

It’s why claiming the state EITC is so important. Working families can boost their incomes just by filing their taxes and use the credit they’ve earned to better afford rent, food and other necessities, giving a family a bit more economic stability. According to the California Budget & Policy Center, families with children can receive as much as $2,706 from this credit, depending on how many children they are supporting. This is in addition to roughly $2,000 to $3,800 that families who qualify for the maximum CalEITC can receive from the federal EITC and Child Tax Credit (CTC).

The credit is significant for working families who are earning just enough to make ends meet and battling the high cost of living in California.

CWDA and our partners long advocated for the state EITC and worked closely with legislators to see it come to fruition because we know working families need every resource possible to work their ways out of poverty.

County human service agencies – charged with helping people move out of poverty – are committed to helping working families learn about how to take advantage of the CalEITC. Many eligible families are our clients who receive CalWORKs, Medi-Cal and CalFresh assistance to support their households. For years, many counties have opened their offices to serve as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites where clients can get assistance on the spot filing their taxes. Counties encourage their staff to become VITA volunteers, as well. Last year, San Francisco used VITA promotional messaging on the scrolling message boards in their customer lobbies, including translations into Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, and Russian. And San Bernardino County created a VITA promotional message in English and Spanish that was played as part of its “on hold” messaging for callers. The county shared that message with all 58 counties for their use, too.

Despite these great efforts, there is more work to be done to spread the message and ensure that working families know about the tax credits they have earned. Whether you are a county eligibility worker, community partner or have a family member you think might be eligible for the credit, take action today on EITC Awareness Day, learn about the CalEITC and make sure your clients, family and friends know how to get help filing their taxes for free through a reputable source and get their credit this year.

- Cathy Senderling-McDonald

Cathy is the Deputy Executive Director of CWDA.