Free Tax Help Available as Filing Deadline Approaches

What to Know

  • Free tax help is available for filers across the Bay Area

  • Tax Day is Monday, April 15

  • Californians will encounter many changes in tax filing for the first time this year

This year’s tax filing season comes with some of the biggest changes Californians have seen in decades. As the April 15 filing deadline draws near, free help is available to many taxpayers who have not yet completed their tax returns.

The good news: help is right around the corner, and it may not cost you a dime.

United Way is offering free tax help, in five languages, to qualified families, seniors, and students at dozens of locations across the Bay Area. Click here to find a location near you.

The help is provided free of charge by tax experts working with United Way Bay Area’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Magesh Jayapandian, a VITA tax volunteer, says teams are ready to help filers get money back that they might have otherwise missed.

“It’s to claim tax credits for doing things like working; sending kids to school; and taking care of their families,” Jayapandian said. “There are benefits that the government provides, and the only way to get these is to file a tax return.”

Many filers are encountering major changes introduced by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, a federal law that took effect for income earned in 2018. For example, Californians are now limited to deducting a maximum $10,000 for state and local income and property taxes. There’s also a higher standard deduction, new income brackets, and more limits on mortgage interest and charitable contribution deductions.

“The new tax law has changes that are challenging for some, but also beneficial for many,” Jayapandian said. “The tax amounts have changed. Withholdings have changed, which means people have had more money in their paychecks, but might also have a little higher tax liability.”

In addition to United Way Bay Area, the San Francisco Human Services Agency is also offering free tax help for families earning less than $55,000.  Locations can be found here.

We’ve compiled a list of things you need to know about the new tax law. Click here to read more.

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