A number of state and federal tax resources exist for working families and individuals to boost their tax refunds, lower the amount of taxes owed, or provide free assistance in filing.
MyFreeTaxes.org can connect you with an IRS-certified tax volunteer for in-person or virtual assistance in filing your taxes and pursuing credits such as those listed below.
Middle Class Tax Refund (MCTR)
California passed the Better for Families Tax Rebate (also knows as the Middle Class Tax Refund) in the summer of 2022 to help offset higher costs of living caused by inflation. It provided an estimated $9.5 billion to approximately 17.5 million California families. If you received this rebate, you do not have to report it when filing your 2022 taxes this spring.
You were eligible for the MCTR if you met all of the following criteria:
- You filed your 2020 tax return by the October 15, 2021 deadline,
- Met the qualifying income limits,
- Were not claimed as a dependent in the 2020 tax year,
- You were a California resident for six months or more of the 2020 tax year, and
- You were a California resident on the date the payment was issued.
You may contact the Franchise Tax Board if you have further questions about this one-time payment at (800) 542-9332 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5p.m.
California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC)
The CalEITC offers a cash-back credit for working low-income families and individuals with either a Social Security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The program expanded this year so that self-employed individuals may also qualify.
You could receive up to $3,417 in tax credits. You qualify for the CalEITC if you meet ALL of the following criteria:
- You are at least 18 years old or have a qualifying child.
- You earned an income of at least $1 but no more than $30,000 in 2022.
If you qualify for CalEITC and have a child under 6 (as of December 31, 2022), you may qualify for an additional $1,000 tax credit.
The Federal EITC is a similar federal cash-back tax credit for working low-income families and individuals.
You could receive up to $6,935 in tax credits from this program. You qualify for the Federal EITC if you meet ALL of the following criteria:
- You are at least 19 years old.
- You have a Social Security number.
- You have your main home in the United States for more than half of the tax year.
- You cannot be claimed as a dependent or a qualifying child on anyone else’s return.
- You are not married and filing separately.
- Your tax year investment income is $10,000 or less.
- You earned at least $1 of income, no more than certain thresholds depending on your familial status.
In January, the Governor announced a tax relief program for individuals and businesses in California impacted by the winter storms. Residents in proclaimed disaster areas, such as San Joaquin County, are eligible to claim a deduction for a disaster loss and will have more time to file taxes.
Claim Disaster Losses
Taxpayers may claim a disaster loss when filing an original or amended tax year 2022 tax return. When filing, taxpayers should write the name of the disaster in blue or black ink at the top of their tax return to alert the Franchise Tax Board (FTB). For filing electronically, taxpayers should follow the software instructions to enter disaster information.
The FTB has extended the filing and payment deadlines of state tax returns for individuals and businesses in California until May 15, 2023.
The IRS has extended the deadline for federal tax returns for individuals and businesses affected by the storms until May 15, 2023.
Higher Education Tax Credits
Education Tax Credits are designed to relieve the cost of higher education by reducing taxes owed or boosting tax returns for people who pay qualified higher education expenses. Two higher education credits are available:
1. The American Opportunity Tax Credit provides up to $2,500 in credits per eligible student. If this credit brings your total amount of tax owed to zero, you can have 40 percent of any remaining amount of the credit, up to $1,000, rewarded as a tax refund. You may claim this credit for the eligible student's first four years of higher education.
2. The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit has no limit on the number of years you can claim the credit. You may be eligible for $2,000 in tax credits to help relieve the cost of qualified tuition and related expenses paid for eligible students.