VENTURA, Calif. – The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a fifteen-year partnership between the County of Ventura Human Services Agency, the United Way of Ventura County, 2-1-1 Ventura County and the IRS to provide preparation and electronic filing of federal and state tax returns free of charge to low and moderate-income earners. Through the program, individuals with earnings under $56,000 in 2019 can meet with IRS-trained and certified volunteers at locations across Ventura County to complete and file their taxes, including at Human Services Agency offices in Oxnard, Ventura and Simi Valley. Appointments are available through May 2 and can be made by calling 2-1-1.
In addition to assisting with tax filing, the program helps ensure that households take advantage of all tax credits for which they are eligible, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and child tax credits. The federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a tax credit for low-to moderate-income working families and individuals which can help reduce a household’s tax liability and, in many cases, even results in additional income. The EITC is credited as one of the most powerful tools for lifting people out of poverty and provides a meaningful boost to the local economy. Each year, 20% of eligible individuals fail to claim these tax credits, leaving millions of dollars unclaimed. The VITA program strives to ensure that eligible community members, even those who may not have filed taxes in recent years, can benefit from these credits.
Self-employed workers and families earning wages up to $30,000 may also qualify for California’s Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), which provides a refund or reduces the amount of tax owed. Households who meet the CalEITC requirements and have a child under age 6 by the end of the tax year, may also qualify for the new Young Child Tax Credit. Together, these state credits can put hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the pockets of local families. In 2019, the VITA program helped Ventura County families claim more than $2.8 million in tax refunds, including $1,054,930 dollars in federal Earned Income Tax Credits. Taxpayers can schedule an appointment by calling 2-1-1.
For tax filers who are comfortable using computers, www.myfreetaxes.org is a user-friendly program offered through a partnership between the United Way and H&R Block, which allows taxpayers with earnings up to $66,000 to file their taxes themselves online for free.