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Low-income earners in the Valley can get money back – if they file taxes

A street view of downtown Fresno with smoggy skies.
Joe Moore
Valley Public Radio
Smog partially obscures the old Security Bank building in downtown Fresno.

FRESNO, Calif. — If you are someone who earned between $1 and $30,000 last year, you may be eligible for tax credits.

Every year at tax season, there are low-income earners who don’t file taxes. Yet, more than $1 billion is available to them from the state.

Reyes Uviedo, program director with the Central Valley Partnership, says that unclaimed money belongs to those who earn income, however low it may be.

This week, he’s part of a coalition of nonprofits putting out the message to low-income earners in the San Joaquin Valley that they should file their taxes and get money back.

Some families are eligible for up to $6,000. The size of the family and earned income determine how much a family can receive.

“Many people think because they make too little they don’t owe Uncle Sam or the IRS any money, they don’t necessarily have to file their taxes. But the reality is when they file their taxes they may be eligible for some tax credits," Uviedo says.

Anyone with an Individual Tax Identification Number, or ITIN, qualifies for these low-income tax credits.

During tax season, United Way of Fresno and Madera Counties is offering free tax preparation. Uviedo says filing taxes is a free service through IRS-certified organizations, and the groups hope to clear up the misconception that one must pay to file taxes.

The Central Valley Partnership is particularly interested in making sure rural and unincorporated communities know about the tax credits. He says the recent storms that kept farmworkers off work may have had a negative effect on household income, and earned-income tax credits could help provide some relief.

"This money belongs to them. It's money that they earned, and we're pushing to make sure that families get what they deserve for whatever income needs they have," Uviedo says.

Anyone can text the word “taxes” to 211 211, to set up an appointment with United Way for free tax preparation.

Another tool for tax filers is through the website CalEITC4Me.org. There, people can calculate for how much money they are eligible.

The deadline to file state and federaltaxes is April 18.

Cresencio Rodriguez-Delgado is KVPR's News Director. Prior to joining the station's news department in 2022, he was a reporter for PBS NewsHour and The Fresno Bee.