Area residents can get their taxes prepared for free starting February 5 at free tax sites run by United Way of Northern New Jersey and its partners in Morris, Somerset, Suburban Essex, Sussex and Warren counties.
This free service is designed to help the 37 percent of New Jersey households identified by the United Way ALICE Report as living below the ALICE Threshold – living paycheck to paycheck, unable to afford necessities. For local individuals and families who are ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) or in poverty, the free tax preparation program allows them to receive the credits and refunds they’ve earned while saving them the average $270 fee paid tax preparers charge.
“For our residents who are working hard but struggling to get by, we know that every dollar counts,” said United Way Chief Operating Officer Kiran Handa Gaudioso. “That’s why United Way is committed to providing ALICE families with opportunities to save their hard-earned money, pay basic bills and reduce debt.”
United Way has teamed up with NORWESCAP RSVP, Greater Providence Missionary Baptist Church, Partners for Health Foundation, Single Stop and the IRS to offer day, night and weekend appointments in person with IRS-certified volunteers who prepare and file both state and federal returns for free. To make an appointment at a free tax site in Morris, Somerset, Suburban Essex, Sussex and Warren counties, dial 973.993.1160, x5.
Residents can also make online appointments for some of the tax sites by visiting www.UnitedWayNNJ.org/FreeTaxPrep. Households earning less than $66,000 also have the option to file their taxes for free online using MyFreeTaxes.com.
This year, all filers receiving a state refund or certain federal tax credits will see a delay regardless if they pay a preparer or use a free service. New Jersey state income-tax refunds will not go out until at least March 1. For low-income families eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit, the IRS expects refunds for returns claiming these federal credits to be available starting on February 27.
“Tax credits such as the EITC can boost refunds by the thousands, which can help bolster a family’s financial stability for the rest of the year,” Gaudioso said. “United Way, our partners and our highly trained volunteers work hard to help ALICE households get back every dollar they deserve.”
Clients using United Way’s free tax preparation program will have the opportunity to put more money into their wallets by accessing savings-related information and programs such as Savers Credit and SaveYourRefund. The Savers Credit can provide ALICE and poverty-level taxpayers who are saving for retirement with a special tax break. Clients who qualify can see their tax bills reduced. Through the SaveYourRefund program, clients saving at least $50 of their federal refund can enter for a chance to win $100 and one of two $10,000 grand prizes.
Last year, United Way and its partners made it possible for nearly 5,500 households to file their taxes for free, refunding more than $6.2 million and saving residents nearly $1.2 million in tax preparation costs.
These free services are available only to low- and moderate-income families and individuals. These services are not available to business owners or landlords.
For more information about United Way’s free, quality tax preparation program, visit www.UnitedWayNNJ.org/FreeTaxPrep.