This year, in particular, we know that many people are facing more economic hardship than in previous years. Many people are unemployed, they are earning less compared to the expenses of living, and it's more important than ever that we make sure that people take advantage of all the resources that are available to them.
Too many hardworking people in Contra Costa County don't claim the tax refunds and credits they deserve or take advantage of free tax preparation services available to them every year.
I'm Dr. William Walker, Director of Contra Costa Health Services, here to talk to you about the annual Earn It! Keep It! Save It! Contra Costa Campaign.
Health Services supports this program because we believe that financial security contributes to a family's or individual's overall well being.
Through Earn It! Keep It! Save It! -
- if your household income was less than $42,000 in 2007 - you can get your taxes done for free and make sure you get all the tax credits and refunds you are owed.
Many people aren't aware of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, which can amount to as much as $4,700 per family.
That money can make a big difference in a household struggling to make ends meet. Last tax season, the program helped more than 2,100 families and individuals receive $2.4 million in tax refunds and credits in Contra Costa County.
Unfortunately, we're seeing some people spending their limited resources paying private tax preparers extra fees for refund anticipation loans to get their tax refunds early.
This can end up costing an average of $250 - the equivalent to two week's worth of groceries for a family of four.
Every week in my clinic, I see patients who are struggling to keep food on the table, to keep clothing on their kids, and basically to survive in our more expensive society.
I urge them and families and individuals who qualify for the program to hold on to their hard-earned cash and wait to get their taxes done at no cost when the EKS campaign starts later this month (January).
The free tax preparation sites will be located throughout the county and language interpreters are also available at some sites.
For more information on tax preparation sites in Contra Costa or to learn more about Earn It! Keep It! Save It!, call 1-800-358-8832 after January 15 or visit our website at cchealth.org
Thanks for listening.