Wednesday, February 19, 2020
United Way and partners help residents claim tax credits, receive refunds
During a difficult financial time, Dauna Thompson knew that paying someone to prepare her taxes wasn’t an option. Despite working hard, the single mom was living paycheck to paycheck.
“Every penny that I was making, I needed,” Thompson recalled of her financial situation several years ago. Looking for ways to stretch her income from temp jobs, the Montclair resident turned to United Way of Northern New Jersey and its free tax preparation program. “I’ve been going there ever since.”
By utilizing this free service, Thompson not only saves the average $270 fee paid tax preparers charge, she also benefits from tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which help boost her refund.
“Everything that applied to me, I was able to get,” said Thompson, who used her refund to pay utility bills and cover the rent. “That money helped keep me above high waters.”
United Way’s free tax preparation program is designed to help the 38 percent of New Jersey households whose income doesn’t cover the basics. For local individuals and families who are ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) or in poverty, this free service helps them receive the credits and refunds they’ve earned while avoiding the high cost of a paid tax preparer.
“When you are just getting by, every dollar counts,” said United Way Chief Operating Officer Kiran Handa Gaudioso. “That’s why United Way is committed to working with our community partners to provide this invaluable service.”
United Way has teamed up with NORWESCAP RSVP, Greater Providence Missionary Baptist Church, Partners for Health Foundation and the IRS to offer day, night and weekend appointments throughout its five-county footprint. Clients meet 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 or click here. Households with simple returns also have the option to file their taxes for free online using MyFreeTaxes.com.
Now a full-time receptionist, Thompson continues to use United Way’s free tax preparation services. She appreciates the friendly volunteers and that those who prepare her taxes are trained by the IRS. Most importantly, she is grateful for the free help.
“This program—especially for those who are in need, who may be living paycheck to paycheck and every penny counts—this service will do you good,” Thompson said.
Last year more than 6,000 households filed their taxes using the free program, saving nearly $1.6 million in tax preparation costs and getting back more than $6.6 million.
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, click here.