BRIDGEWATER, NJ – Low- and moderate-income residents can get their taxes filed during Northern New Jersey United Way’s free tax-a-thon event Feb. 2 and 3 which will include popcorn, prizes and children’s face painting.
Held at United Way’s Bridgewater office, 1011 Route 22 West, Suite 202, the sessions will take place by appointment only from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 2 and from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb.3. In addition to getting their taxes prepared for free, filers will have the chance to win gift cards and learn about community support resources.
The tax-a-thon is a kickoff to United Way’s annual free tax preparation service, which will offer residents day, night and weekend appointments at sites across Somerset County throughout tax season, beginning Feb. 5. In partnership with NORWESCAP RSVP, Greater Providence Missionary Baptist Church, Partners for Health Foundation, Single Stop and the IRS, United Way and its IRS-certified corps of volunteer preparers can file both state and federal returns for free.
The sites across Somerset are: Bernards Township Library, Bernardsville Library, Congregational Church of Bound Brook, Franklin Township’s health department, Raritan Valley Community College and United Way’s Bridgewater office. To make an appointment, dial 973.993.1160, x5. Residents can also make appointments online 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 free service is designed to help the 26 percent of Somerset County 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.”
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.
United Way of Northern New Jersey is a nonprofit organization working to improve people’s lives and strengthen communities by focusing on Education, Income, and Health. These are the building blocks for a good life – a quality education that leads to a stable job; the tools needed to achieve financial stability; and good health. United Way of Northern New Jersey serves Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties as well as portions of suburban Essex County.