California’s new earned-income tax credit had put about $189 million in the pockets of the working poor as of earlier this month, well below the $380 million in claims the Brown administration and lawmakers had expected.
Proponents, though, consider the program’s first year a success, and new data from the Franchise Tax Board show that taxpayers from around the state have claimed the credit.
Almost one-quarter of the claims were in the state’s largest county, Los Angeles, where more than 97,000 taxpayers received almost $44 million in tax credit claims. That averages out to about two dozen claims for every thousand tax returns filed by county residents.
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Some counties had much higher rates. In Imperial County, where one-quarter of the population has incomes below the poverty level, there were almost 3,700 tax credit claims – a rate of about 60 claims for every thousand returns in the county.
In the Sacramento region, south Sacramento’s 95823 ZIP code had 1,508 approved claims, totaling more than $1 million, the third-highest total in the state. Other high-claim ZIP codes in the capital area include Florin’s 95828, Del Paso Heights’ 95838 and Rancho Cordova’s 95670.
California’s credit is available to those making up to $6,580 if they are childless, and up to $13,870 if there are two or more qualifying children. The credits have averaged about $524.
The 2015 tax credit total could grow over the coming months.
Although April 18 was the regular deadline to file a 2015 tax return, all California taxpayers automatically receive a six-month filing extension until Oct. 17. The tax board has flagged about 55,000 taxpayers who might be eligible for the credit but have not claimed it, encouraging them to file amended returns.
In addition, some lawmakers and others have called for changing the tax credit program to increase participation, such as by expanding it to include self-reported income or raising the income thresholds. As of last month, though, state officials predicted about $295 million in total tax credit claims for 2016 returns.