Today's Law As Amended


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AB-1515 Earned Income Tax Credit Outreach and Education and Free Tax Assistance Grant Program.(2021-2022)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) California is home to over 2,000,000 undocumented immigrants who collectively pay $3.2 billion in local and state taxes. These Californians make up one-tenth of the California workforce, yet are ineligible for any type of unemployment insurance, including pandemic unemployment assistance.
(b) Undocumented workers in California have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s economic devastation. According to one estimate, unemployment increased among undocumented workers at a rate seven times higher than citizens in similar jobs. Without access to unemployment insurance, undocumented workers have been forced to work in unsafe and unlawful working conditions—many earning subminimum wages—in order to provide for their families.
(c) These Californians are now eligible for relief through both the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), the Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC), and the Golden State Stimulus, but only for those undocumented Californians who file their taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), underscoring the need to have effective outreach, education, and free tax filing services. An estimated 1,300,000 undocumented Californians are likely eligible for, yet lack, ITINs, and will therefore continue to be excluded from relief.
(d) At a time of economic insecurity, alongside complex and evolving relief packages, the need for clear outreach, education, and free tax assistance from trusted sources is increasing in communities across our state experiencing extreme financial stress.
(e) The CalEITC is one of California’s best tools to help alleviate poverty, stimulate local economies and businesses, and act as a frontline defense against the deepest risks of economic downturn.
(f) The CalEITC and the YCTC are key to tackling California’s poverty crisis and as our state grapples with COVID-19 and the economic realities of reduced work hours and income, it has become even more critical to help low-income individuals and households file their taxes to access these credits and the Golden State Stimulus.
(g) California has championed the CalEITC for years, continually expanding access to the credit, most recently to workers who file their taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), underscoring the need to have effective outreach, education, and free tax filing services for those who are newly eligible for the CalEITC, YCTC, and other stimulus programs like the Golden State Stimulus.
(h) California must consistently invest in a robust infrastructure of free tax assistance and a growing network of Certified Acceptance Agents who are culturally and linguistically competent to help process ITIN applications so that all Californians are able to leverage the full power and potential of all credits and stimulus payments available.
(i) To make the Outreach and Education and Free Tax Assistance grants even more effective, California should adjust the timing of these grants to make them year-round and over two-year increments to align with IRS programs and ensure equitable access to services for all Californians.

SEC. 2.

 Part 10.4 (commencing with Section 19900) is added to Division 2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, to read:

PART 10.4. Earned Income Tax Credit Outreach and Education and Free Tax Assistance Grant Program

19900.
 This part shall be known and may be cited as the Earned Income Tax Credit Outreach and Education and Free Tax Assistance Grant Program.
19901.
 (a) The Franchise Tax Board shall administer the Earned Income Tax Credit Outreach and Education and Free Tax Assistance Grant Program in accordance with this article.
(b) The Franchise Tax Board may contract or administratively partner with the Department of Community Services and Development to administer any provisions of this part as the Franchise Tax Board deems necessary.
(c) The Franchise Tax Board may adopt regulations for purposes of this part in accordance with Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
19902.
 (a) Upon appropriation by the Legislature, the Franchise Tax Board shall allocate grants to qualified nonprofit community-based organizations or local government agencies to increase the number of eligible households claiming the state and federal Earned Income Tax Credit, the Golden State Stimulus, and the Young Child Tax Credit, and to increase awareness of ITIN tax status eligibility, pursuant to the requirements in this section.
(b) The Franchise Tax Board shall equally allocate grant moneys for all of the following purposes:
(1) Provide timely distribution of funds for the state and federal Earned Income Tax Credit, the Golden State Stimulus, and the Young Child Tax Credit, and for awareness of ITIN eligibility.
(2) To existing California Earned Income Tax Credit outreach contracts.
(3) To existing Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) clinic contracts to provide free tax preparation assistance and ITIN application assistance.
(4) Focus funding in regions of the state with low participation in the state Earned Income Tax Credit relative to the estimated eligible population in that area.
(5) Focus funding in regions of the state with estimated high percentages of ITIN filers and ITIN eligible workers who do not have a current ITIN status.
(6) Emphasize collaboration of grantees with other community-based organizations and local government agencies.
(7) Encourage targeting of specific underserved communities, particularly those that experience barriers to taking advantage of the credit or stimulus, with a focus on extremely low income households, likely ITIN eligible workers, populations with limited English proficiency, rural communities, and other hard-to-reach populations.
(c) Grant contracts allocated under this part shall be effective for 12 months to ensure continuity of services.
(d) (1) The award of grants under this part shall be exempt from the State Contract Act (Part 2 (commencing with Section 10100) of Division 2 of the Public Contract Code).
(2) Grants awarded under this part shall be at the sole discretion of the Executive Officer of the Franchise Tax Board.
(e) Beginning January 1, 2023, and annually thereafter, the Franchise Tax Board shall submit a report to the Legislature annually, pursuant to Section 9795 of the Government Code, on the effectiveness of the program.
19903.
 (a) There is hereby established in the State Treasury the Earned Income Tax Credit Outreach and Education and Free Tax Assistance Grant Fund.
(b) The Franchise Tax Board shall use moneys in the fund, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to allocate grants to qualified nonprofit community-based organizations or local government agencies pursuant to Section 19902.