Garcetti kicks off Free Tax Prep LA

LOS Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti this week launched the Free Tax Prep L.A. (FTPLA) 2021 campaign, an initiative to provide working families with free tax preparation services and help them claim state and federal tax credits.

Partnering with the Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department (HCID), L.A. County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA), the Koreatown Youth + Community Center (KYCC), and United Way of Greater LA, this effort will open the door to up to $10,000 in tax credits for hard-hit, low-income households.

This year, for the first time, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) immigrant filers will be eligible for California’s Earned Income Tax Credit and the Young Child Tax Credit.

“Year in and year out, local families leave hundreds of millions of dollars on the table –– refunds they are entitled to receive and credits that can make the difference between security and despair for our struggling neighbors,” said Garcetti. “Every dollar recovered can help hard-hit Angelenos pay the bills, cover the rent, and put food on the table –– and with COVID-19 wreaking havoc on so many in our city, there has never been a more critical time to provide these free tax prep services to our most vulnerable households, regardless of immigration status.”

This year, tax season begins on February 12, two weeks later than usual, creating a delay for Angelenos hit hardest by COVID-19 to file their taxes and receive a refund. To help alleviate economic hardships and prevent residents from resorting to predatory lenders, FTPLA is expanding its services for eligible filers through COVID-safe drop-off and drive-thru locations, virtual and phone bank assistance, Facebook Live Q&A panels with the IRS, and more.

“I implore our City’s immigrant community to take advantage of these new tax credits that reward their hard work and put potentially thousands of dollars back in their hands,” said Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez. “This past year has been one of the most trying years in our City’s history, especially for heavily impacted low-income Angelenos. Through our free tax preparation program, we are providing them with critical assistance. We want to make sure they receive every last dollar they are entitled to.”

Garcetti has long been an advocate of extending California’s Earned Income Tax Credit and Young Child Tax Credit programs to all of the state’s households. To that end, he led a coalition of eight Big City Mayors to successfully advocate for Governor Newsom and the State Legislature to extend these credits to ITIN filers, a change that was ultimately adopted and signed into law last fall. This step will make 600,000 more Californians, including 200,000 children, eligible for these programs.

“Beginning February 8th, we’ll have a week-long activation to help get the word out. Everything from livestreamed panel sessions with the IRS answering frequently asked tax questions and tips to avoid tax scams, partnerships with DREAMERS to encourage ITIN filers to access cash-back tax credits, multilingual online tutorials, and more,” said Audrey Casillas, Manager of Community Economic Development Services at KYCC.

Eligibility

• Individuals earning $57,000 or less can claim the state and federal earned income tax credit (EITC) where they may be eligible for up to $10,000 cash back.

• Families with children should inquire about California’s Young Child Tax Credit where they may be eligible for up to $1,000 with qualifying children under age 6.

• ITIN filers are newly eligible for the CalEITC state credit and Young Child Tax Credit, totaling up to $4,000.

FTPLA locations and hours

• For a list of locations and hours, visit www.freetaxprepla.com. Drop-off services require appointments. Assistance available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Persian, Armenian, and Korean.

• Stimulus check assistance is also available for those who have not yet received their payment.

• Supportive resources during COVID-19 include online tutoring, hygiene kits, food banks, tenant/low-income housing support, CalFresh assistance, and more. Visit www.freetaxprepla.com for a list of FamilySource Centers.

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