February 1 Kick-Off Event to Raise Awareness of Eligibility among Residents, Sign up Families for Tax Preparation Assistance Program
On February 1, the Bronze Triangle Community Development Corporation, will officially kick off its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to help qualify community residents for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Currently, the IRS estimates that $50 million or more goes unclaimed by eligible families in San Diego County
“The potential cumulative economic impact to the region is huge,” said Gale Walker, the Bronze Triangle CDC’s President. “But the impact the EITC program can have on individual families is what motivates our staff and our volunteers. Across the country, the EITC program has actually lifted millions of children out of poverty, more than any other federal aid program.”
A recent Urban Institute study shows that minorities, particularly low-income Hispanic households, are less likely to know about the EITC than low-income non-Hispanic parents of any race. Census data indicates that 75 percent of the residents in the Bronze Triangle, comprised of Grant Hill, Stockton and Logan Heights, are Hispanic.
The Bronze Triangle’s efforts have attracted volunteers from the public and private sector, including such organizations as San Diego City College, LEAD San Diego, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and San Diego National Bank. The Bronze Triangle VITA site is part of a coalition of community efforts to boost EITC filings in San Diego County. Other VITA initiatives underway in the city include one in the Diamond Neighborhoods (Chollas View, Emerald Hills, Lincoln Park, Mountain View, Mount Hope, North Encanto, Oak Park, South Encanto, Valencia Park and Webster), which is coordinated by the Neighborhood Funders Group. San Diego County government also is looking into the possibility of establishing a VITA site.
The Bronze Triangle VITA site already is signing up residents who want assistance with tax preparation. Bronze Triangle VITA sites will be located at 2953 Imperial Avenue and will operate on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning February 1. Families who live in the Bronze Triangle and are interested in learning more about EITC can get more information by phoning 619.233-1385.
The EITC often is not well known among the working poor, even though it was enacted by Congress in 1975 as a refundable income tax credit designed to make work pay for low-income families. Originally proposed in response to high unemployment in the mid-1970s and the burden that social security taxes imposed on low-wage workers, substantial EITC increases were approved by Congress several times during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
A study by the Brookings Institution issued in June 2001 shows that more than 19 million families claim more than $30 billion in EITCs an average of $1,567 per family, making the EITC the largest federal aid program targeted to the working poor. In the San Diego region, 174,000 residents earned more than $253 million in federal EITC refunds in 1997. More than $113 million of the total was provided to residents of the city of San Diego.