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Tax Preparation

Tax Frequently Asked Questions

Answers To All Your Tax Prep Questions

What is Free Tax Prep or VITA?

For more than a decade, United Way has partnered with Norwescap, Greater Providence Missionary Baptist Church, the IRS, and a corps of IRS-certified tax volunteers to prepare and file free tax returns for more than 6,000 families annually. The program is formally called VITA, which stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. VITA is funded by the IRS to provide free federal and state tax preparation specifically for low- and moderate-income households. The program helps these households access all tax credits for which they are eligible, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Education Credits.

Will VITA sites be open in 2021?

United Way of Northern New Jersey’s free tax preparation sites will be closed for in-person preparation throughout the tax filing season. The preparation of all 2020 state and federal tax filings and back taxes will occur remotely through an easy-to-use portal that includes secure document uploads, encrypted email communication, and video conferencing.

Who is eligible for this free service?

This service is only open to individuals and families with low- to moderate-income. Businesses and landlords are not eligible for this service.

 

How will the online tax filing portal work?

Beginning February 1, 2021, visit our secure online portal here to start the tax filing process. Using a computer or your smartphone, you can scan or take pictures of required documents for upload. Our IRS-certified tax preparers will review all documents and communicate with you through video chat or by phone for the entire process. This will include clarifying or obtaining additional information, reviewing the return with you, completing it, and filing it electronically. Assistance and forms will be available in both English and Spanish.

 

Can I still get my taxes prepared for free if I don’t have computer, smartphone or internet access?

Yes, we can still help. Email UnitedWayTaxPrep@UnitedWayNNJ.org or call 973.993.1160, x521 and explain the barriers you are facing to accessing our online portal. A tax preparation specialist will get back to you with alternative instructions.

 

How long will it take to complete my return?

Once all documents are uploaded and received, returns will be prepared for completion within seven to 10 business days.

 

How will returns be filed?

All returns will be filed electronically.

 

What are the essential documents I need in order to have my return prepared and filed?

You will need the following documents:

  • Picture ID for taxpayer (and spouse, if filing jointly);

  • Social security card (or ITIN) for each person on the return;

  • Documents showing income and expenses, health insurance information, proof of income such as all W2s and Form 1099s you received during the year;

  • Documentation of expenses;

  • Form 1095-A and dependents’ proof of income if anyone in the household is insured through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace;

  • Account and routing numbers for direct deposit of refunds is recommended, along with a copy of a prior tax return.

 

What if I want to file my taxes myself? Do you have self-filing software that’s free?

Yes, MyFreeTaxes.com is a free, online alternative that that has no income limits and accommodates self-employed workers who file a Schedule C form. MyFreeTaxes.com provides a helpline staffed by IRS-certified 211 call specialists who are available to answer questions in English and Spanish and help filers complete their return accurately.

 

How is VITA different than going to a paid preparer?

  • VITA tax preparation is completely free and saves filers an average of $270 per return.

  • VITA tax preparers are IRS-certified and have completed extensive training.

  • Each completed return undergoes a separate review process to ensure quality and accuracy.

  • VITA never practices predatory lending options such as "instant refunds" or "refund anticipation loans.”

  • VITA can connect filers to savings programs, such as SaveYourRefund, to make the most of their refunds.

 

What is the Intake Interview and Quality Review Sheet (Form 13614C)?

For a limited number of tax filers who are directed to drop off their tax documents, this form will be mailed to you in advance. It must be filled out prior to your drop-off appointment to ensure that an accurate tax return is prepared. This ensures efficiency during your appointment when an intake volunteer will review the form for accuracy and completion.

What is the Virtual VITA Consent Form (Form 14446)?

For a limited number of tax filers who are directed to drop off tax documents, this form will be mailed to you in advance. Participants must sign this document, consenting to the drop-off preparation method, before leaving documents with us. By completing Form 14446, you agree to drop off your tax documents at the VITA site and agree to review your completed tax return at a later date.

Help! I still have unanswered questions.

We are here to help! Send an email to UnitedWayTaxPrep@UnitedWayNNJ.org or call 973.993.1160, x521 and a tax specialist will get back to you.