Financial Stability

As many as one-third of working Americans do not earn enough money to meet their basic needs. Wages have not kept pace with the rising cost of housing, healthcare, and education and currently, 40 million Americans are working in low-paying jobs without basic health and retirement benefits.  For families walking a financial tightrope, unable to save for college, a home, or retirement, United Way is here to help.

Our Strategy

To address the obstacles that prevent hard working families from getting ahead financially, United Way promotes community-change strategies to help families meet their basic needs, while gaining the financial capability to plan for, and accomplish, their long-term financial goals. 

How You Can Help

Volunteers make United Ways’ tax assistance and financial education programs possible. We need your help, even if you don’t have an accounting background. Learn more about United Way's Financial Stability program strategies:


Free Tax Preparation Assistance

Immigrant Families & EITC: In 2021, for the first time in California, families who  file taxes with Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs) or have someone in their household who has an ITIN, will become eligible to receive up  to $2,982 in CalEITC and  up  to $1,000 in the Young Child Tax Credit if they otherwise meet the eligibility criteria.


Prepare and file your taxes with United Way using! is easy, safe, and secure! Sponsored by United Way,


Click our Tax-Time calculator below to see if you qualify for credits this year!

Click here for more information on the California Earned Income Tax Credit and the Young Child Tax Credit


Did you know California has a tax credit for working families and individuals? It’s called the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) and it is modeled after the federal credit. It is now better! What is new?

  • Higher income limits. A worker with an income of $30,000 or less may benefit from the credit. That means working full-time at the state minimum wage of roughly $15 per hour could qualify.

  • Additional $1,000 for Families with Children under 6: If you have a young child in the home who is under 6 years old and qualify for CalEITC, you might be eligible for an additional $1,000 dollars. Raising young children is hard for working families. CalEITC can help.

  • More working Californians will benefit from this credit. Adults ages 18-24 without dependents, and older adults ages 65+ without dependents will also be eligible for this credit for the first time in tax year 2018.

  • Work for yourself? You qualify too. Even if you earned income from self-employment, you may qualify for the credit. Both 1099 filers and cash earners qualify.

With the combined federal and state credits eligible families can get up to $6,000 back after filing their taxes. What would you do with an extra $6,000 dollars? The average combined refund for both credits combined is $3,000. To get your cash back, simply file your state and federal tax returns for FREE. Search for a free tax preparation site, with IRS-certified tax preparers, or file online for free here.

Last year, over 450 working families in San Luis Obispo County benefited from the California Earned Income Tax Credit, claiming over $217,968. About 2 million Californians may be eligible for CalEITC during tax season 2019. 

Did you know? If you are a working individual and didn’t file taxes because you made less than the required income threshold, you can still claim the credit up to three years back? You must file a tax return in order to claim the credit.

Did you know that you don’t have to spend a dime to get assistance on your tax return from trained, IRS certified counselors by visiting one of our VITA sites (see below)?

In addition to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, the state Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) is also available for families and individuals in California. Becoming law in 2015 and expanded most recently in 2018, California’s EITC is available for households with adjusted gross incomes of less than $15,008 if there are no qualifying children, less than $24,950 if there are one or more qualifying children. California EITC requires earned income reported on a W-2 form, such as wages, salaries, and tips, and self-employment income (such as 1099 and cash-earnings)

Click to download CalEITC Quick Handout

Check out this video from CA Franchise Tax Board for info on CalEITC:


For more information about EITC and to find out about free tax prep services:

  1. Visit

  2. Call 2-1-1

  3. Text “TAXES” to 211-211



• * (CA Specific)-links to

Shortened URL:


Shortened URL:

• BenefitKitchen – links to screener for EITC, CalEITC, Child Tax Credit and 15 other public benefit programs:

• Franchise Tax Board (FTB) video link:

Shortened URL:


Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA):

If you earned $56,000 or less in 2019, you may qualify for free in-person tax filing with certified tax volunteers.

What to bring with you to your tax appointment:

Once you know if you qualify for free tax preparation and have scheduled your appointment, be sure to bring all of the following information to your appointment:

1. Photo ID for taxpayer and spouse

2. Original Social Security Card or ITIN for each person on tax return (copies accepted). Contact your local Social Security office to make an appointment to order a copy if you cannot find yours prior to your tax appointment.

3. W-2 or 1099-MISC for all jobs held in 2019

4. All 1098’s, 1099’s, 1095-A’s and any other tax forms

5. Voided check or savings account and routing # for directed deposit refund

6. Last year’s tax return (if available)

7. Childcare provider information with name, address, etc.

8. Landlord’s name, address and phone number for renter’s credit

South County:

Oceano Elementary School, Adult Education Room
1551 17th Street
Oceano, CA 93445




Santa Maria:
Allan Hancock College
800 S. College Drive, Building S
Santa Maria, CA 93454




Money Talks volunteers increase the financial literacy of our high school students. Using material from the University of California Cooperative Extension Money Talks program and the National Endowment for Financial Education, United Way has prepared a series of five classes for high school seniors that present accurate, unbiased information and hands-on experiences in financial literacy; tools that young people can learn and take with them into early adulthood and through life.

49% of all Americans are saving nothing towards retirement. More than 40% of American families have less than $1,000 in a liquid, non-retirement savings account. 43% of American families spend more than they make. These troubling statistics show why United Way of San Luis Obispo County's focus on improving financial stability must start with teaching young people how to make the sound economic decisions that lead to a secure financial future. United Way's Money Talks for Teens program was designed to inspire youth to understand the importance of financial skills and provide a basis that students can use for lifelong development of personal financial literacy.


Volunteers work in teams, going to their assigned class for five sessions. Although a background in finance or banking is helpful, volunteers need no prior experience. To learn more or to get involved, please contact us at (805) 541-1234 or visit

Money Talks is generously sponsored by:
Friends of the late Larry Baur, CPA


Other Useful Links