As complicated as tax season is every year, filing your taxes for the extremely challenging year that was 2020 (by the new due date of May 17) could help you qualify for additional financial help in the form of tax credits.
Both packages include direct aid in the form of tax credits (also known as stimulus checks), with a one-time California tax rebate of $600 for anyone who earned less than $30,000 last year, and $1,400 in federal aid going to individuals who earned less than $75,000 last year.
While this aid is meant to benefit families that have been hit hard by the pandemic, a new report shows it's not reaching those most in need.
“We estimate that 2.2 million low-income Californians who are on safety net programs like CalFresh or CalWORKs are missing out on $5.7 billion in stimulus payments,” said Aparna Ramesh, senior research manager with the California Policy Lab and co-author of the report.
Why? In order to send payments quickly, the federal and state governments used previous years' tax filings as indicators for need. But that overlooked folks who weren't required to file taxes at all because they had little to no income and didn't owe money to the IRS (a tool created by the IRS to help these folks has been defunct since November.)
So, the most dependable way to ensure you get the payments you are due is to file your taxes for 2020 – even if you’re not required to, and even if you have no income to report from the last year.
In this guide, we’ve collected essential information to help you make sure you get the aid you're entitled to, ranging from local tax credit programs like the San Francisco Working Families Credit (which grants up to $500 to eligible families) to the the Golden State Stimulus plan.
We've also included relevant information for undocumented and mixed-status families, who may also qualify for an additional $600 from the state this year.
Click on the links below to skip to a specific section:
- What You're Automatically Eligible for When You File
- Keeping Track of the California Earned Income Tax Credit
- Applying for San Francisco’s Working Families Credit
- How to Request an ITIN
- Organizations Offering Free Tax Assistance in the Bay Area
- A Breakdown of the Golden State Stimulus
The first step can sometimes be the hardest. But if you don’t file your taxes on time, you may miss out on the money you're entitled to, regardless of your income.
“The goal of the $600 checks is to help those facing the greatest economic challenges due to COVID-19,” said Yolanda López, financial capability coordinator with the Unity Council, a nonprofit organization in Oakland that offers free tax assistance.
“By simply filing your taxes you will then be eligible to receive this aid through direct deposit to the account you used when filing your taxes, or [money] will be sent as a physical check to the address provided in your filing,” López added.