MORRISTOWN, N.J. – Michele Pacheco-Lintag looks forward to tax time. It’s the one time of year when the single mom experiences some financial relief.

By utilizing United Way of Northern New Jersey’s free tax preparation program, Pacheco-Lintag is able to save the average $200 fee paid tax preparers charge. Last year Pacheco-Lintag also benefited from tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helped boost her refund.

The full-time licensed practical nurse uses her refund and the money she saves in tax preparation fees to help pay basic bills, buy clothes for her growing 11-year-old and manage debt.         

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“The only time I don’t feel like I’m living paycheck to paycheck is at tax time,” she said.

Pacheco-Lintag is among the 824,000 households throughout the state that are struggling to make ends meet despite working hard. United Way calls these residents ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).

United Way, in conjunction with NORWESCAP RSVP, Greater Providence Missionary Baptist Church, Single Stop, Partners for Health and the IRS, offers a free tax preparation program for ALICE and those in poverty throughout Morris, Somerset, Suburban Essex, Sussex and Warren counties. IRS-certified volunteers ensure clients receive all the available tax credits, including the Child Tax Credit and EITC.

“ALICE families are working hard for every dollar they earn and should get back every dollar they are due,” said United Way Senior Vice President Kiran Gaudioso. “A proven anti-poverty tool, the EITC can offset a client’s tax liability or result in a cash refund that can be used to pay basic bills, manage debt or establish savings — every dollar counts.”

New Jersey residents who qualify for EITC this year will benefit from an increase in the state’s match of the federal credit. The state match increased from 30 to 35 percent this year. On average, eligible New Jersey residents receive $2,300 in EITC.

“The EITC means a lot,” Pacheco-Lintag said. “It means I can do things for my son that I couldn’t do if I didn’t receive it.”

Last year United Way and its partners helped struggling area residents claim more than $1.5 million in EITC. Nearly 6,000 households filed their taxes using the free program, saving nearly $1.2 million in tax preparation costs and getting back more than $5.7 million in refunds.

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.