CA Earned Income Tax Credit ensures low-income families get their tax refunds

SAN FRANCISCO — Wendy Zhao is a single working mother who has a son in his freshman year of college.

Zhao is a first-generation immigrant to America and doesn’t speak English.

But despite all that, she is getting a tax refund of $4,000.

Organizers here say Filipinos and other Californians like Zhao can have a similar tax outcome.

State Assemblymember Phil Ting fought to expand the program called the California Earned Income Tax Credit — or Cal EITC — to ensure more low-income families like Zhao can get a tax refund that could really help.


“One thing is many people who make that little money assume they don’t have to file taxes but we’re telling them no. They absolutely have to file taxes because they’re in this rare situation where they will almost certainly get money back, not have to pay money,” said Ting. “So we have a lot of families who don’t file taxes so they’re leaving their money to the state and the feds.”

Based on the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, millions of families can benefit from the expansion of the Cal EITC program, which will extend the income limit to $22,300, include self-employed workers, and more minimum wage workers qualify.

According to Ting, every year California leaves $2 billion dollars of unclaimed EITC money on the table.

The Assemblymember and organizations like United Way are working to make sure more people pocket that money.


“I think there are different groups who don’t know for different reasons. One, they just don’t file their taxes ever,” said Kelly Batson. “I also just think there are people who are filing on their own and they’re not just aware… and then I think there are people, there are groups that are still learning. It’s only in its third year.”

With over 200 locations across the Bay Area, those interested can call 2-1-1, and ask about free tax preparations or check the website at

For those outside California who are looking for free services across the country, you can check the IRS website.

“We have a number of locations that do appointments and then some that do walk-ins so you can come anytime. And then there’s a lot that do both.”

The deadline to file your taxes is Tuesday, April 17.


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