Press Releases

NJ 2-1-1 Supports Struggling New Jerseyans: Connects Earners to Tax Assistance Sites


EAST HANOVER, NJ - Every year at this time, NJ 2-1-1 staff is helping to ensure that the refund is not left “on the table” by answering calls for information on locations where free tax filing assistance is available. Hundreds of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) locations are listed on the organization’s “There isn’t a day that goes by that we are not sharing this information with our callers and web visitors,” says call center director, Janice Kaniewski. With the help of many community partners, including the United Ways of New Jersey, NJ 2-1-1 starts to identify these locations as early as December. “We put such effort into compiling this comprehensive listing of VITA sites, because VITA connects people with an important tax credit that they might otherwise miss out on,” continues Ms. Kaniewski.


The refund to which she is referring is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and for years it has been putting real money back into the hands of hard working citizens throughout the country. Workers who file what is known as a simple tax return to state and federal government could receive refunds from both.


The EITC is available to those who worked full- or part-time or were self-employed in 2016. Depending upon one’s income and family size, federal credits range from $506 to $6,269 and state refunds may amount to anywhere from $178 to $2,195. To qualify, you must file a tax return even if you do not owe any tax or are not required to file, and you must meet income eligibility requirements which can be found on the organization’swebsite [].

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Gina Plotino, NJ2-1-1 board president cautions, those eligible for free tax preparation may be induced to select a for-profit tax preparer who offers refund advances.  “I urge eligible earners to understand the terms.  Typically, such advances are actually loans for which interest is charged in addition to cost of preparation.  NJ 2-1-1 strongly encourages families to seek out IRS-certified free tax sites in their communities through NJ 2-1-1, to ensure you realize your full benefit."


In addition to providing information on VITA locations, the NJ 2-1-1 website,,  provides visitors with full access to the 2-1-1 resource database of over 10,000 programs and services from approximately 3,000 organizations. Web visitors will also find informative pages that provide comprehensive information like application links, eligibility guidelines and critical dates. Special sections of the site are devoted to such topics as Emergency Preparedness, Family Services, Home Energy Assistance, Utility Assistance, and Resources for the Unemployed among others.


2-1-1 is the free, user-friendly phone number that serves people throughout the U.S., connecting millions each year to critical resources, information and services. In New Jersey, more than 363,000 people turned to NJ 2-1-1 for help last year. Services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are free, confidential and multilingual.

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About NJ 2-1-1

The statewide information and referral service began in 2002 when the United Ways of New Jersey spearheaded efforts to give people-in-need a central location to call when looking for health and human services. The Board of Public Utilities designated the NJ 2-1-1 Partnership as the sole administrator of the three digit dialing code. Statewide coverage began in 2005. In 2016 alone, the NJ 2-1-1 Partnership provided resource assistance to over 363,000 people who called 2-1-1 or visited our website. With roughly 3,000 agencies in the organization’s resource database and over 10,000 programs and services listed, NJ 2-1-1 provides the public with front door access to non-profit, government and faith-based services, as well as disaster response information. Follow us on Twitter @NJ211 and FB

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August 9, 2017

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Murphy’s Puerto Rico Relief Commission Looks to Connect Families to Resources

March 20, 2018

PERTH AMBOY - Stephanie Márquez-Villafañe, president of the student-based Puerto Rican action group Rutgers Unión Estudiantil Puertorriqueña, offers a sobering assessment of New Jersey’s Puerto Rican student community in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the worst hurricane to hit the U.S. territory in recorded history.

"University students have ...

East Brunswick's Girl Scouts Work with a Young Woman's Busy Schedule

March 21, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Have you wanted to join a Girl Scout troop, but just don't have the time? Check out this out. Busy teens can be Independent Girl Scouts -- all the programs and awards without the scheduled troop meetings. Teen girls can do badge work, attend events, travel, earn awards or do community service on their own time. (And ...

Murphy’s Puerto Rico Relief Commission Looks to Connect Families to Resources

PERTH AMBOY - Stephanie Márquez-Villafañe, president of the student-based Puerto Rican action group Rutgers Unión Estudiantil Puertorriqueña, offers a sobering assessment of New Jersey’s Puerto Rican student community in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the worst hurricane to hit the U.S. territory in recorded history.

"University students have ...

Rutgers voices support for proposed state budget

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University officials have often been wary of the governor's annual budget message, wondering what type of budget cuts the university may sustain and how it would potentially impact tuition and the overall quality of education.

This budget message, delivered March 13, appears to be a sigh of relief.

Pete McDonough, Vice President of External Affairs at ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

Ian Hockley Visits New Jersey to Introduce Program to Empower Youth

This week I am taking a departure from book reviewing to share an important program that has been introduced to New Jersey this week by Mr. Ian Hockley, founder of the Dylan's Wings of Change Foundation. On December 14, 2012, Hockley's five year old son, an autistic child named Dylan, was gunned down in his classroom in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Dylan, a shy and adorable ...

Middlesex County Young Republicans Host "Road to Victory" Event at the Green Turtle

March 21, 2018

NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ -  Middlesex County Young Republican Chairman John Steiner would like to announce the Middlesex County Young Republicans "Road to Victory" Reception, which will take place on March 22 at the Green Turtle in North Brunswick from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM.

This event will serve as the official launch for the 2018 campaign season for the Middlesex ...

Rep. Watson Coleman Urges Support for Students Participating in Protests: Letter to Local School Officials Asks for Encouragement Rather Than Punishment

EWING, NJ – Today, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) sent letters to principals and other school administrators in New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District urging support and encouragement for students who engage in protests and demonstrations for gun violence prevention amid reports that some New Jersey schools had suspended or otherwise punished students for their ...

ECSNJ Partnership with Rutgers Behavioral Health Helps Students Manage Life’s Challenges

PISCATAWAY – A collaboration with Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care is providing more behavioral and emotional support for students attending two Educational Services Commission of New Jersey (ESCNJ) schools.

Appearing on ESCNJ’s Better Together podcast, Assistant Superintendent Gary Molenaar said Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care “is a recognized ...