New State Tax Credit Helps California’s Working Poor

New State Tax Credit Helps California’s Working Poor

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Photo: Lam Hon Man, courtesy of EBALDC


Neither Lam Hon Man nor Ya Ling dreamed they would be leaving their tax preparer’s office with a fair amount of money in their pocket this year.

But that’s exactly what happened to the two 50-something East Bay Area women, thanks to California’s recently launched Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program that gives the state’s low-income people an earned income tax credit.

Ling, a divorced Vietnamese American nail salon worker living in Oakland, who earns about $8,000 a year, left the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation with the news that she would be getting $2,276 from California; Man, a just retired in-home service provider, found out she would be getting $1,293. She made about $4,500 last year. Both women are on food stamps.

Those amounts are in addition to the $1,584 and $3,520 Man and Ling will get respectively from Uncle Sam through the decades-old Federal Earned Income Tax Credit program.

The state EITC provides a tax refund to people making less than $14,000 a year. An eligible family will get around $900, according to the state Franchise Tax Board.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins said that money is “pretty significant” for a struggling family.

Atkins pushed for the tax credit, which is expected to benefit around 2 million Californians at a cost of $380 million.

Self-employed people are not eligible for EITC, a decision that drew criticism from such agencies as the California Budget and Policy Center.

Ling and Man like most EBALDC clients had not even heard about California’s EITC until they came to get their taxes done, said Lily Hu, financial services coordinator at the Oakland-based nonprofit in its Chinatown office. Hu prepared the two women’s tax returns.

Man plans to use the refund on household expenses, while Ling who lives with her two children in a housing project in Oakland, said she would spend the money toward their education.

As of last week, EBALDC has served 923 people who identified themselves as Asian on their 2015 tax returns. Of them, 49 were Vietnamese, 793 Chinese, 12 were Korean and two were Japanese.

Find out more about the new tax credit at CalEITC4me.org.