City Provides $500 Stimulus for Lower-Wage Workers and Families
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and the San Francisco Human Services Agency (SFHSA) today announced $1.9 million in financial support initiatives that will provide up to $500 cash assistance this tax filing season to San Francisco working families struggling to make ends meet as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, free tax assistance centers are now open at dozens of San Francisco neighborhood locations to answer questions and help filers get more money back when they apply for local, state, and federal tax credits.
The 2021 San Francisco Working Families Credit (WFC) offers low- and moderate-income households with children a local tax credit of up to $250 to help cover day-to-day expenses such as utilities, rent, food, and child care. In addition to the opportunity to apply for the WFC this year, 4,000 households who were recipients of the WFC in 2020 will receive an additional rapid cash stimulus payment of $250.
New this year, the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) and the WFC are available to taxpayers filing with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), providing expanded assistance to San Francisco’s undocumented and mixed-status immigrant households who pay taxes but who do not have a social security number.
“With the economic hardships so many people are facing due to COVID-19, and with more people likely qualifying for benefits than in years past, these immediate payments are critical right now,” said Mayor Breed. “We want to make sure people have the help they need to file, so that it’s as easy as possible and we can get financial resources into the hands of people who need it most.”
“With unprecedented numbers of families still recovering from a sudden loss of earnings last year, San Francisco’s free tax assistance centers are here to help people get back every dollar of tax credits they are eligible to receive,” said Trent Rhorer, Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Services Agency. “Our City is unique in offering a Working Families Credit so we can provide additional financial support on top of the state and federal tax credits. Extending this local stimulus to more families provides emergency relief for those struggling to make ends meet at a critical moment in the pandemic economic slowdown.”
Working Families Credit - $250 per family
The WFC offers low- and moderate-income working families with children up to $250 in cash back. When combined with state and federal tax credits, the WFC can help families receive up to $9,600 in tax credits. San Francisco created the WFC in 2005 and is one of a few cities in the country to offer a local tax credit.
With more than 300,000 unemployment insurance benefits claims filed in San Francisco since the onset of COVID-19 and the expansion of the CalEITC to filers with an ITIN, new households are anticipated to be eligible for the WFC this year. Expanding the CalEITC and WFC is a vital support for working immigrant households hit hard by the economic slowdown and excluded from financial relief programs like federal stimulus payments and unemployment insurance.
To qualify for the WFC, households must have a 2020 income of no more than $56,844, claim the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and submit an application to SFHSA. All eligible families are encouraged to apply. The WFC application is now available to complete online: SFHSA.org/applyWFC
“Given the pandemic’s economic toll on low-income Latinos in San Francisco, many community members cannot pay rent or even put food on the table tonight,” said MEDA Associate Director of Asset Building Programs Jackie Marcelos. “We are pleased that the City and state are affording ITIN filers the opportunity to receive the CalEITC and Working Families Credit, as our undocumented neighbors have been especially hard hit given that these contributors to our society were left out of federal stimulus programs.”
In September 2020, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1876, expanding access to the CalEITC to ensure all California tax filers, specifically undocumented ITIN filers who are otherwise eligible, may qualify for the CalEITC and the Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC). State officials estimate the expansion of CalEITC to ITIN tax filers will benefit more than 600,000 Californians.
Rapid Cash Stimulus - $250 per family
The City will provide a supplemental rapid cash payment of $250 to nearly 4,000 low-income families who already received the WFC in 2020. No application is required for $250 the rapid cash stimulus. Households who received the WFC last year will be contacted by SFHSA to verify their address and banking information, followed by automatic payments anticipated to arrive before the end of March.
For many San Franciscans who earned low wages before the pandemic, the COVID-19 economic downturn and job losses are only worsening the economic disparities they experience every day. This stimulus will help provide immediate relief to the unprecedented financial challenges working families continue to face as the state experiences the most intense surge of the virus.
Free Tax Assistance – Online Tools, Drop-off, and Select In-Person Assistance
On average, American taxpayers spend nearly $200 to have a tax professional file their return. San Francisco’s free tax assistance centers allow filers to maximize their refunds through tax credits and avoid preparation fees.
Free tax preparation is available to people who cannot afford professional services from a paid tax preparer and to older adults, those with limited English proficiency, and people with disabilities who require assistance. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) certified tax experts prepare tax returns, answer questions, and determine if filers qualify for tax credits such as the EITC and WFC.
San Francisco’s free tax assistance is provided by SFHSA through a partnership with the United Way Bay Area, which includes the Mission Economic Development Association and Arriba Juntos, among other local non-profit partners. IRS-certified providers make it easy to safely and securely file taxes using online tools, drop-off, or in-person assistance at select locations.
Filers with a combined household income of $66,000 or less in 2020 are eligible for free tax assistance services. To have their taxes prepared, residents should present income documents from all jobs worked and unemployment income statements throughout 2020, as well as their social security number or ITIN, bank account numbers, a valid photo ID, and reportable expenses such as child care. In addition to free tax help, SFHSA can connect filers to no-fee bank accounts, credit repair services, and financial education coaching. The deadline to file is April 15, 2021.
The IRS estimates that nearly one out of five eligible people miss out on the EITC because they do not know that they qualify, or do not know where to find free tax filing assistance. Last year, more than 8,000 returns were filed at San Francisco’s free tax assistance centers.
To apply for the Working Families Credit and find free community tax assistance filing options, visit FreeTaxHelpSF.org, or call 2-1-1 to find free tax centers and schedule appointments.