Today Is VITA Awareness Day; Free Tax Help Available Statewide

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For Immediate Release

03.15.2016

Sacramento –On this occasion of the second annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Awareness Day, the Franchise Tax Board encourages Californians to take advantage of free tax preparation workshops scheduled throughout the state up through Tax Day, April 18.

“This year, the volunteer efforts of these programs are even more important, as they help put extra money into the pockets of low-income taxpayers through California’s new Earned Income Tax Credit,” said State Controller and Franchise Tax Board (FTB) Chair Betty T. Yee. “These programs not only save money; they help people avoid tax preparation scams.”

Many Californians are eligible for tax help through VITA and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). IRS-certified volunteers at more than 1,000 VITA/TCE sites last year helped hundreds of thousands of Californians file their income tax returns.

Volunteers prepare tax forms for those who make $54,000 or less, as well as senior, disabled, and non-English speaking taxpayers who need to file simple federal and state tax returns. Many military bases provide this service for members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The TCE program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, focusing on those who are at least 60 years old. TCE specializes in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues. The TCE volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retirees associated with nonprofit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.

The California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) was included in the 2015-16 State budget, and provides up to $2,600 each to qualified taxpayers. 

To find tax help locations throughout California, go to caleitc4me.org and use the finder or go to ftb.ca.gov and click on the free tax help link.

Taxpayers are encouraged to schedule a tax preparation appointment as these programs are popular, then bring the following to the appointment:

  • Proof of identification (photo ID).
  • Social Security cards for the taxpayer, spouse, and dependents or a Social Security number verification letter. Taxpayers who do not have a Social Security Number can substitute an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) assignment letter.
  • Proof of foreign citizenship, if the taxpayer has not yet received an ITIN.
  • Birth dates for all who are included in the tax return.
  • Wage and earning statements (Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc) from all employers in 2015.
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099).
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available.
  • Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit, such as a blank check.
  • Total paid to a daycare provider and the provider's tax identifying number such as Social Security number or business employer identification number.
  • Forms 1095-A, B or C, (Affordable Health Care Statements).
  • To file taxes electronically on a joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.

FTB administers two of California's major tax programs: the Personal Income Tax and the Corporation Tax. FTB also administers other nontax programs and delinquent debt collections, including vehicle registration debt collections on behalf of the Department of Motor Vehicles and court–ordered debt. Each year, FTB’s tax programs collect more than 70 percent of the state’s General Fund. For more information on other taxes and fees in California, visit taxes.ca.gov.

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