When it comes to the New Year, “resolutions” can run the gamut. Some people resolve to spend more time with family, others to spend more time at the gym, and for some it could mean finally planning that well deserved vacation. One that you might not hear very often? Doing your taxes.
That is the case for Elizabeth, a 19 year-old young parent in foster care in Los Angeles County. She first learned about the benefit of tax filing in 2022, when her social worker told her free tax assistance provided by The Community College Foundation (TCCF), a partner of John Burton Advocates for Youth.
For two years running, JBAY has provided financial and technical assistance to TCCF to ensure foster youth in Los Angeles County know about the benefits of tax filing and receive hands-on assistance. Elizabeth took a chance and it paid off.
It got even better in 2023, when Elizabeth went to file and was able to claim the Foster Youth Tax Credit. JBAY advocated for the creation of the Foster Youth Tax Credit– the first of its kind in the nation. Since then, over 5,000 young people in California, like Elizabeth, have received over $4.9 million.
In 2024, the Foster Youth Tax Credit will increase from $1,083 to $1,117 for this year’s tax season, providing a lifeline for young people who have had experience with the foster care system.
For Elizabeth, getting help filing her taxes meant an extra $1,400 to help pay rent, utilities, groceries and her many other expenses. “I definitely recommend working with the program! They are very communicative and update you along the way. I filed on a Tuesday and knew that same day what my refund would be.”
This year, JBAY is working to reach young people in every corner of the state by adding a digital marketing campaign to its list of outreach strategies. This will include using the power of social media to identify and educate foster youth about the Foster Youth Tax Credit. JBAY’s goal for the 2024 tax season is to help 10,000 foster youth claim this important, new credit.
For JBAY Housing and Health Director Simone Tureck-Lee, the new tax season is a chance to reach more young people and let them know they’re eligible. “If you’re a foster youth who has made even a single dollar working in the last year, you might be eligible for the Foster Youth Tax Credit. At JBAY we want to make sure that no young person is leaving cash on the table and that everyone involved – supporters and young people alike – have a plan to file,” she said.
JBAY is also working to ensure that there are caring, well-informed adults to help young people file their taxes and claim the new credit. In December, JBAY organized four days of training for 51 volunteers in partnership with San Diego-based Dreams for Change.
JBAY Project Manager Andy Lomeli participated in the training and gave it high marks. “The New Year is here and we are ready to help.” To learn more about the Foster Youth Tax Credit, read JBAY’s report that summarizes the findings from the 2023 tax season.