Volunteer helps client with tax preparation. (United Way)

During tax season, United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) is offering multiple free, tax-preparation centers now through April 17 for families and individuals who earned less than $66,000 in 2017.

UWSBC’s United for Financial Empowerment Partnership assistance centers are open during evening and day hours.

Each Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) location is staffed by trained, experienced, IRS-certified volunteers who provide free income tax return preparation and E-Filing to help residents get their tax refunds.

“The assistance and advice from our amazing volunteers, many of whom have years of professional tax preparation experience through their careers, go well beyond tax season and help residents build long-term assets and reinforce their financial foundation,” said Steve Ortiz, UWSBC president/CEO.

“We want to get residents their full tax refunds and get them started on a financially stable 2018,” he said.

In particular, volunteers are looking to ensure that even more working families benefit from California’s recently expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Here is what’s new:

A parent with an income of $22,300 or less may benefit from the credit if they have one or more qualifying children. That means a parent working full-time at the state minimum wage of roughly $10 per hour could qualify.

For the first time, those who earned self-employment income may also qualify for the credit. Both 1099 filers and cash earners qualify. With the combined federal and state credits eligible families can get up to $6,000 back after filing their taxes.

To get your tax credit, simply file your state and federal tax returns. Search for a free tax preparation site, with IRS-certified tax preparers, or file online by visiting www.unitedwaysb.org/vita.  

In 2017, more than 150 volunteers through UWSBC’s United for Financial Empowerment Partnership prepared more than 3,100 returns, securing more than $2.6 million in refunds for participants.

Tax preparation services will be available at the following VITA sites:

United Way, 320 E. Gutierrez St., Santa Barbara, 1-5 p.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays.
Santa Barbara High School, 700 E. Anapamu St., room 71, 3-6 p.m., Mondays (closed March 26 and April 2).
Goleta Valley Community Center, 5679 Hollister Ave., 9 a.m.-noon, 1-4 p.m. Fridays.
Franklin Neighborhood Center, 1136 Montecito St., Santa Barbara, 6-9 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays.
Police Activities League, 1235 Chapala St., Santa Barbara, 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturdays (closed March 31).
Santa Ynez High School, 2975 E. Hwy. 246, room E-1, 10 a.m.-2p.m. Saturday, March 10.
Carpinteria Children’s Project, 5201 8th St., room 312, 4-7 p.m. Wednesdays.
UCSB at Phelps Hall, rooms 1517 and 1518, 1:30-4:30 p.m. March 9; and Student Resource Center computer lab, 12:30-3:30 p.m. March 11.

For more information and a full list of VITA sites and operating hours, visit http://www.unitedwaysb.org/vita.

— Angel Pacheco for United Way of Santa Barbara County.