Tax credits are being expanded in California. They may not be claimed by thousands of people who need them most

The state is extending its tax credits, including a $1,000 benefit for former foster youth that is the first of its kind in the nation.

Yet these programs - designed to reduce taxes owed to the government and provide cash to

those living in poverty - remain underutilized, leaving millions of dollars on the table.

Research has shown that tax credits are one of the best ways to help low-income Californians. 

The state budget signed last month by Gov. Gavin Newsom includes more than $100 million 

to expand tax credits for low-income Californians. Despite this, state officials face a conundrum: Not everyone 

who qualifies will claim the credits, and those who need them most may not file.

Low-income earners in California are not required to file taxes. Californians without dependents 

With a gross annual income of $19,310 are considered single.

California Policy Lab published a study last year that found nearly half of households receiving CalFresh 

food benefits were eligible for the state's Earned Income Tax Credit but did not claim it.

Our country's most effective poverty-reduction tool is tax filing. It's one of the most fair ways to get money out. 

"However, it might not be the most efficient way," said Anna Johnson, associate director of housing 

And health at John Burton Advocates for Youth. It will keep getting in the way 

if we don't offer a significant enough incentive to overcome these barriers."

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