September 20, 2022

Money Moves: JBAY Puts California’s Foster Youth Tax Credit in Motion

Money Moves: JBAY Puts California’s Foster Youth Tax Credit in Motion

California has become the first state ever to establish a tax credit for foster youth! Thanks to JBAY’s advocacy, around 20,000 current and former foster youth from ages 18 to 25 will now claim a $1,000 refundable credit. However, many foster youth are unaware of how to access this credit, or how to file their taxes in general. 

This year, JBAY established free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites in six counties. We helped 250 young people receive their tax refunds, and raised their income by an average of 15 percent. Our report highlights the outstanding results of this project. 

Christina Parker recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a Master’s degree in social work and is currently a Congressional intern for the U.S. Senate. Wondering how she was going to pay off the taxes that she owed, she received help at her local VITA site in Los Angeles. “The financial support JBAY offered was more than helpful and essential to my transition out of my Master’s program. I hope to increase awareness about this in the future because it would eliminate so much stress and add support for many young people who are struggling to file their taxes.”

Associate Director of Housing and Health Anna Johnson says, “Tax filing is the most effective tool to reduce poverty, but it may not be the most efficient. We’re working to make it a more equitable, responsive structure and provide a clear financial incentive for foster youth.”

Our report on the new Foster Youth Tax Credit not only contains findings from the specific VITA sites, but also recommendations to make tax filing more accessible for young adults. JBAY hopes that the government will do more to reach youth about the benefits of tax filing, and that more organizations will apply to become VITA sites. Looking forward, we are excited about the potential of this tax credit to improve youth’s financial status, along with their health and educational outcomes.