San Francisco Launches Free Tax Preparation Assistance and Local Tax Credit Program
[ Article originally appeared in https://sf.gov ]
Mayor London N. Breed and the San Francisco Human Services Agency (SFHSA) announced that assistance is available to help eligible San Franciscans with incomes of $60,000 and below file their taxes and apply for the San Francisco Working Families Credit (WFC), as well as other tax credits that could help individuals receive hundreds, or even thousands of dollars, in tax credits and refunds.
San Francisco working families continue to face financial challenges due to the current economic climate and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The WFC offers low and moderate-income households with children a local tax credit of up to $250 to help cover day-to-day expenses such as utilities, rent, food, and childcare.
“A lot of people that were impacted by the pandemic are still struggling to make ends meet because of rising costs of living and our economy,” said Mayor London Breed. “San Francisco’s free tax prep service not only helps eligible individuals file their taxes at no cost, but it also helps families apply for other refunds and tax credits, like the Working Families Credit, which can make a real difference for families trying to stretch their dollars to the end of the month.”
Undocumented and mixed-status immigrant households who pay taxes but only have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) are encouraged to file taxes to get the refunds that are available to them. Importantly, the California Earned Income Tax Credit and the WFC are both available to taxpayers filing with an ITIN, providing sources of hard-earned financial assistance that often sits unclaimed.
Millions of Californians do not file their taxes, and therefore, do not get their tax credits and refunds each year, leaving billions of dollars unclaimed. However, tax credits and refunds can provide life-changing monetary resources: working families could get back as much as $9,600 by applying for all credits available to them. Even individuals and families with no income are encouraged to file their taxes, because there are some financial assistance payments that can only be received through tax filing.
“These days, especially in this economic environment, every extra dollar helps,” said Trent Rhorer, SFHSA Executive Director. “Our clients and many community members aren’t required to file their taxes—but they have a great deal to gain if they do file. Tax credits are one of the largest and most effective anti-poverty programs in the nation. We’re urging San Franciscans with incomes under $60,000 to come to our offices or other free tax sites around the City for help with filing their taxes, to claim the refunds owed them.”
Free Tax Assistance
To make it easier for San Franciscans to file their taxes, free tax assistance is available at dozens of San Francisco neighborhood locations in partnership with the United Way Bay Area, Mission Economic Development Association, Arriba Juntos, and several other local organizations. Additionally, SFHSA is providing free tax assistance at two SFHSA locations (170 Otis Street and 3120 Mission Street).
SFHSA is also partnering with United Way Bay Area, John Burton Advocates for Youth, San Francisco Independent Living Skills Program/First Place for Youth, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in a campaign led by San Francisco CASA to provide free tax services and resources to help foster youth file their taxes—foster and former foster youth register here.
On average, American taxpayers spend over $230 to have a tax professional file their return. San Francisco’s free tax assistance centers allow filers to avoid preparation fees and maximize their refunds through tax credits.
The free tax preparation program is available to everyone who qualifies, including but not limited to older adults, those with limited English proficiency, and people with disabilities who require assistance. IRS-certified tax experts prepare returns, answer questions, and determine if filers qualify for tax credits, such as Federal and State Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC), Child Tax Credits, and the WFC.
The IRS estimates that nearly one out of five eligible people miss out on the EITC because they do not know that they qualify, or do not know where to find free tax filing assistance. IRS-certified providers make it easy to safely and securely file taxes using online tools, or to utilize drop-off and in-person service options at select locations. Filers with a combined household income of $60,000 or less in 2022 are eligible for the service.
To have their taxes prepared, residents should present income documents from all jobs worked throughout 2022 as well as their social security number or ITIN, bank account numbers, a valid photo ID, and reportable expenses such as childcare. In addition to free tax help, SFHSA can connect filers to no-fee bank accounts, credit repair services, and financial coaching. The deadline to file is April 18, 2023 and while nearly all free tax sites close after that date, tax refunds can be claimed all year without penalty.
To find free tax assistance filing options, visit FreeTaxHelpSF.org or call 2-1-l. To use one of SFHSA’s two in-person tax sites, the City encourages people to call ahead to schedule an appointment, as tax prep assistance is in high demand, or drop by between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday:
Due to high volume, some locations may be drop-off only and may not be able to complete the filing process on the same day. If same-day tax preparation is needed, please check which tax sites offer that service by calling 2-1-1, reviewing the site information shown on the UWBA.org free tax help map, contacting your tax site directly, or asking your tax preparer before they start your tax return.
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