Be sure to take advantage of state EITC tax rebate

February 09, 2017

A much deserved windfall is on its way to many low- and moderate-income California workers. For those who file state taxes and claim their benefit in 2017, the state is offering an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that, combined with what is available through the federal government, could provide up to a $6,000 rebate to families who meet specific qualifications.

Research has shown that the cash benefit from the EITC has been one of the single greatest contributors to move people and families out of poverty and to improve their financial security. Unlike other programs to assist low- and moderate- income families, this benefit applies only to those who are working but still remain in financial difficulty.  For many of us, $6,000 could ease our financial challenges and it could make the difference between a family keeping a roof over its head or becoming homeless.

In 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown and the legislature created California’s EITC program, CalEITC, as a way to help qualified working, low-income families. This cash-back credit is intended to complement a similar federal EITC that has existed since enactment by President Gerald Ford in 1975. In order to benefit from the state credit, eligible families need to claim it when they file their state tax returns.

According to the California Department of Community Services and Development (CSD), the state agency that administers CalEITC, one out of five eligible workers does not claim the EITC on their state income tax return. On average, a qualified family that did not participate in 2016 lost $2,409 from the state and federal governments.

The specific amount of cash-back credits for qualified working individuals and families depends on income and family size. Californians with an income of up to $53,505 annually may be able to receive cash-back by claiming the federal EITC on their tax return. Additionally, California families that earn up to $14,161 annually may be able to utilize the CalEITC to supplement the federal EITC when a state tax return is filed.

If you meet the criteria, you must file federal and state income tax returns to claim the credits, even if you do not owe taxes or are not required to file a return.

For more information, visit CSD’s website, www.csd.ca.gov/.  During this tax season, I encourage you to find out if you are eligible to receive the benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

*Published by the Morgan Hill Times on 2/9/17