United Way Service Helps Residents Claim COVID-19 Stimulus Payments

United Way’s free tax preparation service includes assistance in filing the Recovery Rebate Credit

Area residents from low- and moderate-income households needing help in securing coronavirus stimulus payments can now turn to United Way of Northern New Jersey’s free, online tax preparation and filing service.

United Way and its partners created a secure online portal, accessible at uwnnj.org/freetaxprep, to ensure these households could receive free, IRS-certified tax preparation and filing services for the 2020 filing season. This year, the service includes assistance in claiming eligibility for coronavirus-related stimulus checks.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has financially crushed many households in our region and across the nation – especially those whose budgets were already under strain and unable to afford basic needs such as food and housing,” said United Way CEO Kiran Handa Gaudioso. “We look forward to helping everyone we can grab hold of the lifeline provided by the stimulus payments.”

United Way’s volunteer tax preparers will assist qualified taxpayers in filing the Recovery Rebate Credit if they did not receive the previous two stimulus payments through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of March 2020 and the Tax Relief Act in December 2020. Under the CARES Act, individuals earning less than $75,000 and couples earning less than $150,000 were eligible for payments. Eligible adults each received $1,200 and $500 was given for each dependent under the age of 17. Through the second stimulus relief, eligible adults and dependents each received $600.

As President Biden now signed into law a third round of stimulus payments, it is recommended that tax filers get their 2020 returns completed early, especially if they suffered a loss of income from 2019. The third stimulus payments can be based on 2020 income levels. The America Rescue Plan provides $1,400 to individuals whose annual income is $75,000 or less.

Each year, United Way teams up with the IRS, Norwescap, Greater Providence Missionary Baptist Church and a corps of tax volunteers to make certain struggling households receive all the deductions and tax credits to which they are entitled, without having to worry about complex tax codes and the average $270 fee charged by tax preparers.

United Way modified its service this year, moving operations online, to protect the health and safety of both preparers and clients during the pandemic. The easy-to-use online system uses secure document uploads, encrypted email communication and video conferencing. Assistance and online forms are available in both English and Spanish.

The free service is geared for the individuals and families United Way calls ALICE and those in poverty. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed and represents households living paycheck to paycheck, unable to afford life’s necessities. United Way’s most recent ALICE report for New Jersey, released in December 2020, revealed that ALICE households rose by 41 percent between 2007 and 2018.

For more information about United Way’s free, quality tax preparation program, documents needed and information about tax credits and stimulus payments, visit: uwnnj.org/freetaxprep.


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