Free Tax Preparation San Diego

Low- to moderate-income families can file their taxes for free and get help claiming tax credits.

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Last year, the Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition helped 25,250 San Diego County households file their taxes for free

  • Over $42 million in federal and state refunds
  • Over $14 million in federal EITC
  • Over $5.9 million saved in tax preparation fees

Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition

United Way continues to lead the San Diego County Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Coalition, offering free tax preparation assistance to low- to moderate-income local families.

We help people get the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which can help you reduce the taxes you owe and maybe increase your refund. According to NerdWallet, for the 2020 tax year (due May 17, 2021), the earned income credit ranges from $538 to $6,660 depending on tax-filing status, income, and number of children. People without kids can qualify.

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What is the Earned Income Tax Credit?

The Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC), both the federal EITC and state CalEITC, are tax credits for low- to moderate-income working families and individuals. EITC can help you lower the taxes you owe, and in many cases, put money in your pocket.

Who Qualifies for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?

To qualify for the federal EITC, you must have:

  • Worked during at least part of the previous year (show proof of earned income)
  • Investment income below $3,650 in the tax year you claim the credit
  • valid Social Security number
  • A claim with a certain filing status (married filing jointly, head of household, qualifying widow or widower, or single)
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien all year
  • Meet certain income requirements
  • File your taxes, even if you did not earn enough money to be required to file

The EITC benefit is retroactive for three years, meaning you can apply for previous tax filing years, so review whether you filed for the EITC in recent years. If you meet the eligibility requirements and have not filed for the previous three years, you may be entitled to an even larger refund check!

Who Qualifies for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC)?

You may qualify for CalEITC if:

  • You’re at least 18 years old or have a qualifying child
  • You have earned income within certain limits
  • Have taxable earned income
  • Have a valid social security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) for you, your spouse, and any qualifying children
  • Not use “married/RDP filing separate” if married
  • Live in California for more than half the year
  • W-2 wages
  • Self-employment
  • Salaries, tips
  • Other employee wages subject to California withholding

The amount of CalEITC you may get depends on your income and family size. You may go back up to four years to claim CalEITC by filling or amending a state income tax return.

Changes Due to COVID-19

Please note, per the IRS, if your earned income was higher in 2019 than in 2020, you can use the 2019 amount to figure your EITC for 2020. This temporary relief is provided through the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020.

File Online or Schedule an Appointment

Free tax preparation is available in multiple languages throughout San Diego County for most low and moderate income households. Households (all individuals listed on your tax return) earning approximately $57,000 or less in 2020 qualify to file their taxes with a certified tax preparer.

To see if you qualify and to get started online, virtually, or in-person:

Call 2-1-1


What to Bring

  • Valid photo ID

  • Social Security card or ITIN for yourself and your dependents

  • Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return

  • Income documents, including W2s or 1099s

  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Form 1099)

  • Bank account information for direct deposit

  • School tuition or student loan interest statements

  • Dates and proof of health coverage for self and dependents

  • Proof of Health Insurance (Forms 1095-A, 1095-B, or 1095-C)

women taking notes

Will this Affect my Government Benefits?

Participation in free tax preparation assistance or any other additional services will not impact CalWORKS, CalFRESH, or Medi-Cal benefits.

There are special rules for military, clergy, and people who have a disability income or who have children with disabilities.


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