– The OC Free Tax Prep program aims to increase the number of financially stable families in OC and break the cycle of poverty
– Filing options include drop-off with appointment and self-filing online
As part of its United for Financial Security℠ Initiative, Orange County United Way is offering free tax preparation and electronic filing to low- and moderate-income individuals and families through its popular OC Free Tax Prep program.
“Last year, thousands of Orange County community members received free tax preparation services through OC Free Tax Prep, helping to return millions of dollars in tax refunds to local families,” said Susan B. Parks, president and CEO of Orange County United Way. “Our ultimate goal through OC Free Tax Prep is to help stabilize low and moderate income families as well as stimulate the local economy. With help from dedicated volunteers, we look forward to helping even more families this year.”
OC Free Tax Prep was established in 2005 to help qualifying individuals keep more of their hard-earned money and increase the number of financially stable households in Orange County to break the cycle of poverty. To date, program volunteers have contributed more than 105,000 hours to complete 133,132 tax returns, which amounts to more than $25.4 million saved in tax preparation fees.
The program offers two ways of filing – drop-off with an appointment where an IRS-certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) preparer files for you or do it yourself online at MyFreeTaxes.com. There are over 25 VITA sites in Orange County, with locations at community resource centers, churches, and schools. Multilingual preparers are available in most locations. Households that earned less than $60,000 in 2022 are eligible for free tax filing services.
For households earning less than $30,000 in 2022, the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) may qualify them for hundreds or even thousands of extra dollars in cash back credits. In addition to CalEITC, they may also be eligible for the Federal EITC if they earn less than $59,000 increasing their refund even more.
Each year, millions of low-income Californians miss out on cash back in their pockets because they don’t know they qualify for EITC and don’t claim the credit.
The CalEITC applies to tax filers who use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. If anyone who qualifies for CalEITC has children younger than 6 years of age, they may also be eligible for the Young Child Tax Credit.
In 2022, Orange County United Way and its coalition partners filed over 14,000 tax returns, securing $16.5 million in federal and state refunds for individuals and families. Over $3.1 million returned was through the federal EITC, with $2.8 million saved on tax preparation fees through OC Free Tax Prep – amounting to an estimated $19.3 million impact in Orange County.
“When my volunteer preparer informed me about how much I was getting back, my heart fluttered. I’m so grateful for the California Earned Income Tax Credit,” said Gloria, a long-time filer with VITA who recommends it through the OC Free Tax Prep program.
In partnership with the City of Irvine, free tax prep will also be available at Harvard Community Center every Tuesday from Noon to 7:00 p.m. through May 9. Appointments are required; no walk-ins will be accepted. Call (888) 434-8248 to make an appointment.
A full list of VITA locations can be found here.
The deadline to file taxes is May 15, 2023.