Filing Taxes Can Put Money Into ITIN Holders’ Pockets — For Free - United Ways of California

Filing Taxes Can Put Money Into ITIN Holders’ Pockets — For Free

Monday, April 15, 2024

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

By Mari Perez-Dowling, President and CEO of United Way of Central Eastern California, and Jafet Diego, Free Tax Preparation Coordinator for United Ways of California

Read time: 3 minutes

The potential of the tax filing process to resolve our financial situation, regardless of immigration status, is often overlooked. In a state as expensive as California, where one in three households do not earn enough to meet their basic needs, every dollar counts.

We know that receiving thousands of extra dollars this spring can make the difference between struggling to make ends meet or being able to breathe easier. These funds could be used for such basic needs as repairing a vehicle, purchasing school supplies for children, or ensuring food on the table.

It is important to note that tax credits can offer significant relief, but to access them it is essential to file your tax return. It is crucial that everyone, even those without a Social Security Number (SSN), understand that they can also file taxes and claim certain tax credits by obtaining their Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

An ITIN is much more than a number: it can offer considerable financial stability and opportunity. With an ITIN, even those without an SSN can open bank accounts, access loans, such as a mortgage loan to purchase a home, and much more. It is important to understand that ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status and are a separate process from any immigration agency.

Tax credits available to people with an ITIN include the Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC), the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), higher education tax credits, and the Child and Dependent Care Credit, among others. These tax credits, which can add up to thousands of dollars, deserve special attention.

This tax year, eligible filers with an SSN or ITIN can receive up to $3,529 from the CalEITC, depending on their income and family size, and up to $1,117 from the YCTC if they are eligible for the CalEITC and have at least one child 5-years-old or less. Additionally, parents who hold an ITIN can also claim the federal CTC through 2025 if they have a child with a valid SSN that meets the requirements. For the 2023 tax year, tax filers can receive up to $2,000 of the Child Tax Credit for each qualifying child.

There are several ways to apply for an ITIN for free, but to get an ITIN you must file federal taxes. To help you with this process, there are several United Ways throughout the state of California and other trusted community organizations.

You can go to one of our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program sites, known as VITA, where volunteer tax preparers (many of whom speak Spanish) help with tax preparation. At certain VITA sites, there are certified processing agents (CAAs) who can verify your personal identification documents and save you the hassle of mailing them.

Those interested in receiving free tax services can get help through Whether you file your taxes yourself or with the support of trained people in your community. We are excited to help you get all the tax credits you are eligible for, and get the most you are eligible for on your tax return. Filing your taxes with United Way through is safe, effective, and totally free.

We must ensure that every Californian has the knowledge and resources to maximize their tax refund and positively impact their financial future. Whether people choose to file their taxes themselves or seek help through a VITA site, help is available for those who need it. No one should be left behind or deprived of the benefits to which they are entitled to. Learn more and get help from United Way today by visiting

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