Did you know that if you make $54,000 or less, you can get your taxes done for FREE?

United Way of Merced provides free tax preparation through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program better known as VITA. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.

Don’t forget to mention CalEITC while filing your taxes. What is CalEITC? CLICK HERE.

Check out the flyer displayed at the bottom of the page to know what documents to bring.

Individuals can get their taxes done for free one of two ways. They can visit a tax preparation site in their county or file on their own online. View below for options.

In person:

United Way (Merced, CA)

658  W. Main Street

Every Other Saturday-Starting, February 3rd


(209) 383-4242

Only accepting walk-ins

Salvation Army (Los Banos, CA)

123 4th Street

Monday thru Saturday- Starting, January 30th


(209) 827-4945

Only accepting appointments 


        Visit MyFreeTaxes and follow the instructions.

All sources are creditable and safe.

CLICK HERE to find other free tax preparation sites that aren’t through VITA.

Make sure to file your taxes before April 18, 2018!



United Ways across California have teamed up with CalEITC in order to help hard working Californians receive the tax credit they deserve. California Earned Income Tax Credit-  (CALEITC4ME) is an unprecedented statewide outreach campaign to encourage lower income Californians to claim the newly passed state earned income tax credit as well as the federal credit. In addition to a targeted outreach effort designed to reach previous and new taxpayers through trusted community partners, CALEITC4ME is embarking on an effort to increase the awareness about and availability of free tax preparation and is developing public/private partnerships to minimize unscrupulous practices that result in low income individuals and families losing too much of their precious earnings to paid tax preparers and high-fee check cashing agencies.

Know It

Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature created the first-ever California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC). California joins 24 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting a state EITC to supplement the federal EITC.

What is the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC)?

  • CalEITC is a cash back tax credit that puts money back into the pockets of California’s working families and individuals.
  • In its first year, CalEITC boosted the income of about 385,000 families, who shared almost $200 million from the cash-back credit.

Am I eligible?

You may be eligible for the CalEITC if:

  • You have earned income within certain limits (see chart below), AND
  • You, your spouse, and any qualifying children each have a social security number (SSN), AND
  • You do not use the “married/RDP filing separate” filing status, AND
  • You lived in California for more than half the tax year

Review the chart below to see if you may be eligible and how much you may qualify for when filing your 2016 tax return.

Number of Children Maximum Income CalEITC* Federal EITC*
None $6,717 $217 $506
1 $10,087 $1,452 $3,373
2 $14,161 $2,406 $5,572
3 or more $14,161 $2,706 $6,269

Use the EITC Calculator for more exact results by clicking here.

Find FREE tax preparation sites near you by clicking here.


The Merced City and County Continuum of Care is organizing and implementing the 2018 Merced County Homeless Count Survey, which will take place on January 25th. They are currently looking for individuals to conduct the Count and Survey and would like to make you aware of this important need in the ongoing effort to end homelessness in Merced County. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mandates that every jurisdiction that receives federal funding conduct a Homeless Count Survey. The Merced City and County Continuum of Care (Merced CoC) conducts this count every year in January. Register here:

Counters will be sent in teams of 2-6 on THURSDAY, JANUARY 25, in the early morning from:
6:00AM to 8:00AM

An Orientation Meeting – Homeless Count Instructions
There will be a choice of two Orientation meetings from 6:00PM to 7:00PM




If you are currently experiencing homelessness/formerly homeless and wish to volunteer for the count, a MANDATORY MEETING is SCHEDULED for:




Holiday Season is upon us and some of us need help when making ends meet. See below for programs providing Thanksgiving meals, Christmas baskets, toys for children, and more. Will be updated throughout the holiday season. For holiday events, visit our Community Events Calendar.

Holiday – Christmas, toys for children, holiday meals, etc

NEW – Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day is on December 21, 2017 and you can join Golden Valley Health Centers and California Central Valley Journey for Justice is in remembering those who have passed away and recommit to the fight to end homelessness. Lunch, pastries, hot chocolate, and a limited number of free coats and blankets will be provided if needed. If you bring the flyer, you will receive a free hygiene care kit and winter weather items (flyer available in the list down below). It will be at Applegate Park at 12:00pm (noon). For more information, contact Joseph Homer at (209) 355-4397.

NEW – Merced County Rescue Mission Annual Christmas Eve Banquet will be on December 24, 2017 from 10:00am – 12:00pm at The American Legion Hall at 939 West Main Street. There will be a complete Christmas meal with all the fixings. Walk-in.

NEW – Merced County Rescue Mission Toy Drive is open for donations. Donate new, unused toys appropriate for ages 0-13 years of age to the Rescue Mission at 527 West 20th Street Merced, Monday – Saturday from 12:00pm – 5:00pm or call (209) 722-9269. Donations will be distributed at the Christmas Eve Banquet (see above for time/location).

NEW – Merced County Behavioral Health Department is presenting a Community Holiday Celebration at the Los Banos Community Center on Monday, December 18, 2017 from 3:00pm – 8:30pm. They will have free food, games, prizes, and raffles. Morning workshops will be available from 9:00am – 2:00pm and registration is required to attend. Register by calling Dr. Jennifer Jones at (209) 617-3567.

NEW – Boys & Girls Club Breakfast Winter Camp registrations are available now and available in sessions of December 21-22 ($50/child), December 26-29 ($75/child), and January 2-5 ($75/child) for children ages 6 – 18 years of age. Daily camp goes from 7:00am – 6:00pm. Transportation is available at additional cost. Activities include sports, DIY STEM activities, field trip to Rockin’ Jump, Breakfast with Santa (optional), and more. Register online at

LOVE INC is having “Adopt A Family” program available for Christmas. Individuals are able to “Adopt” a family and provide monetary donations  for the family to be able to have a Christmas meal, gifts, and what is desired. Those who want to adopt a family should call in order to be listed. Those who wish to sign-up to receive items, call. The phone number is 209-383-1265 Ext 150.

Central Valley Opportunity Center (CVOC) is giving out Christmas Baskets, which will contain a full chicken, rice, beans, nonperishable items, and candy. Sign-up’s begin on December 1, 2017 at 8:00am. Their office hours are Monday – Friday from 8:00am – 4:30pm. To sign-up, they require ID, proof of income, and proof of residency. Baskets will be distributed on December 21, 2017.

Mariposa County Senior Services Coalition is having “Adopt A Senior” for the holiday season. Make a difference in the life of an older Mariposian this holiday season by donating lap blankets, fleece blankets, mittens/scarves/caps and socks/slippersocks. Drop off your donations at Mountain Crisis Services. For more information, contact Kristen Fiester at (209) 742-5865.

City of Merced Fire Department and Merced Police KOPS for Kids The program is open to low-income families living within the city limits of Merced. Applications are located at Merced Police Department (South Station at West 11th Street) and Merced City Fire Station (#51 at 99 East 16th Street). Applications are open now. One application per family. Please bring photo ID for adult listed on application, ID for each child (birth certificate, medical card, school ID, etc), and proof of residency. For children ages newborn to 12 years old are eligible. Toy giveaway will be on December 16, 2017 at the Police Station on 470 West 11th Street from 10:00am – 2:00pm. For more information, contact Eugene Drummond, Community Liason for City of Merced Police Department at (209) 385-6297.

United Way of Merced County is having a winter coat drive all winter long from October 1, 2017 – February 15, 2018. Coats and sweaters are being accepted, and would prefer items for children ages 1 – 19 years old. They’re open Monday – Friday from 8:00am – 5:00pm, closed every other Friday.

City of Atwater Fire and Kops for Kids is accepting applications at VFW Hall (1390 Broadway Avenue) Monday – Friday from 10:00am – 2:00pm. Toy pickup will be on December 23rd from 7:00am – 12:00pm at Bellevue Elementary School in the gym. Applications require photo ID of the applicant, proof of residency, and social security or medical card of each child. Available for Atwater families only.

Catholic Charities is hosting Toys for Tots and you can apply by registering in-person at 336 West Main Street, Suite 1 anytime between Monday – Friday from 9:00am – 3:00pm (closed between 12:00pm to 1:00pm). The person applying will need to have ID, proof of address, and proof of income. They will need an ID like a birth certificate or medical card of each child. Children must be 1 – 12 years old to be eligible.

Marine Toys for Tots is accepting applications in person at their office at 510 West Olive Street, Monday – Friday from 10:00am – 4:00pm. Children up to 12 years of age are eligible. No documents are needed when registering.

The Bus is having their annual Stuff “The Bus”: Operation Holiday Toy Drive with Merced County Sheriff’s Office. The Bus will be located at the Walgreens parking lot on the corner of G Street and Olive Avenue in Merced on Saturday, December 9, 2017 from 8:00am-2:00pm to collect donations of new, unwrapped toys from the public. Cash donations, as well as, new coats and blankets will also be accepted. For those who are interested in donating but unable to make it to the toy drive, barrel sites are located throughout the county, including The Bus administration office, 1810 K Street, Merced. All donations will benefit children in Merced County. For more information about the toy drive, please contact CJ Jones with Merced County Human Services Agency at (209)385-3000 x 5285.

Holiday Program Flyers 2017

We try our best to make our website as user-friendly and simple as possible, but have also developed this page for those who still have some difficulty. Above you will see the home page of our website, where you can find the toolbar on the top. On our Homepage, you will find our blog, a short “About Us”, partnerships, and testimonials. To find information on resources, click the “Resources” tab at the top and pick the county you are looking to find information on. If you are searching for counties outside of Merced and Mariposa, you will need to Google “211 COUNTY” to find their information.

You will then be redirected to a list of icons that range from basic needs to other opportunities such as substance abuse, volunteering, donating, senior services, etc. To see the list of resources, click on the icon that is close to what you are looking for.

Once you click on an icon, you will find a list of resources that will be more detailed, such as “Food Pantries”, “WIC”, and “Farmers Markets”. Click on the one that best describes what you are looking for. If you do not see what you are looking for, we may not have information on it, but you can also call 2-1-1 or (844) 287-7400 and talk to a specialist.

Once you click on the icon, you will be redirected to our database with a list of resources available within your area. You can scan through resources and click on which ones you’re interested in. There is a map provided which will show you where these programs are located with letters corresponding to the points on the map. Agencies are written in all caps while their programs are listed normally. You will also be able to see a short description, website, and phone number from this view.

Once you click on a program, you will be able to see more information provided, such as a full description, full list of phone numbers, website, email, addresses, hours of operation, disabilities access, mailing address, eligibility, languages offered, how to apply, documents needed, and more. To the right, you are also able to click on the “Make PDF” link, which will take you a printer friendly version to print if needed.

Below each program or agency, you will find a form you can fill out if you find something that needs to be corrected. Please do not fill out for questions you have about the program. For questions, please email Also, the form does not put you in contact with the agency; for that, please visit or call them.

Check out our Events Calendar to see the latest Halloween events in the next couple of weeks, also available HERE. You can also see below for a list of tips to make sure children stay safe and enjoy Halloween fully.

Visit Merced or Mariposa County Resources