Tell California Leaders to Protect $20M in Free Tax Prep Outreach Programs

Free Tax Preparation Assistance services, which take place at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, are important resources to help community members maximize their tax refunds and avoid costly paid preparers. To support and expand these critical programs, in 2022, after years of advocacy, California doubled the funding for Free Tax Preparation Assistance and Education and Outreach grants from $10 million to $20 million. Local Community-Based Organizations could now apply for year-round grant contracts and if funded, scale up critical services, like Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) application assistance, free tax help for target populations, benefit screenings, and more. For organizations with trusted relationships and cultural competency who support Free Tax Preparation Assistance programs at VITA sites, having the ability to operate year-round and grow service levels has been fundamentally critical to reaching more households seeking tax help in their community.

Unfortunately, the expanded funding of $20 million annually was only guaranteed through fiscal year 2023-2024. Governor Newsom has proposed letting the grant funding revert to $10 million in his January Budget Proposal for 2024-2025. The Legislature must take immediate action to protect the Free Tax Preparation Assistance and Education and Outreach programs and maintain the $20 million in the State Budget!

A reduction of funding will greatly diminish the capacity and tax help support that is currently offered by trusted organizations and limit the number of community members that each site can serve. We know Free Tax Preparation Assistance is critical for getting Californian households the maximum tax credits they’re eligible for, like the California Earned Income Tax Credit, Young Child Tax Credit, and Foster Youth Tax Credit. We cannot afford to lose these life-changing programs — take action now and tell the Newsom Administration and State Legislature to prioritize California families by maintaining this critically-needed funding today!