MORRISTOWN — United Way of Northern New Jersey and its partners helped area residents who are working but struggling to afford the basics claim nearly $1.5 million in Earned Income Tax Credits through its free tax preparation program this year.
For local individuals and families who are ALICE — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed — living paycheck to paycheck, tax credits such as EITC can offset their tax liability or result in a cash refund that can be used to meet basic needs such as rent or utilities, pay down debt or establish savings.
“Thanks to tax credits like EITC, we’ve had tax clients see their refunds doubled,” United Way Senior Vice President Kiran Gaudioso said. “These refunds go toward helping ALICEs afford basic bills like quality child care, medical bills and car repairs. It helps struggling families survive.”
New Jersey residents who qualified for EITC this year benefitted from an increase in the state’s match from 30 percent to 35 percent of the federal credit.
“This credit is the country’s most effective pro-work and anti-poverty tool, proven to lift families out of poverty and boost employment and earnings,” Gaudioso said.
This year, United Way, NORWESCAP, Greater Providence Missionary Baptist Church, Partners for Health Foundation, Single Stop and the IRS teamed up to provide free tax preparation and ensure qualified residents claimed key tax credits including EITC, as it’s proven to keep ALICE from falling into poverty. This collaboration returned nearly $6.2 million in tax refunds to ALICE and poverty-level residents and saved them more than $1 million in tax preparation costs.
Across the five-county region of Morris, Suburban Essex, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties, United Way and its partners filed nearly 5,500 returns, including 260 through MyFreeTaxes.com. This program is made possible through the help of a $79,000 IRS grant, grants from Fulton Bank, Partners for Health Foundation and Single Stop totaling more than $41,000 and 160 IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers. The following is a breakdown by county:
- Morris County: 2,085 returns, $487,208 in Earned Income Tax Credits, $118,449 in Child Tax Credits, and $2,460,870 in refunds.
- *Suburban Essex: 1,030 returns, $287,482 in Earned Income Tax Credits, $60,974 in Child Tax Credits, and $1,212,865 in refunds.
- Somerset County: 1,344 returns, $441,751 in Earned Income Tax Credits, $125,531 in Child Tax Credits, and $1,531,089 in refunds.
- Sussex County: 338 returns, $113,841 in Earned Income Tax Credits, $20,751 in Child Tax Credits and $425,146 in refunds.
- Warren County: 432 returns, $148,728 in Earned Income Tax Credits, $10,181 in Child Tax Credit and $545,098 in refunds.
By not paying the average $200 charged by tax preparers, filers also saved more than $1 million in tax preparation costs. For the nearly 95,000 or 21 percent of households in northern New Jersey who are ALICE, these savings can keep families afloat in the face of a financial emergency.
“For those already living paycheck to paycheck, trying to afford the average $200 tax preparers charge is simply not an option,” Gaudioso said. “We are grateful to our partners and all the volunteers who help ensure ALICE households keep their hard-earned money.”
Appointments are still available for low- and moderate-income families who need their taxes prepared from 2016 or earlier years. To make an appointment, call (973) 993-1160 ext. 521. To learn more about United Way’s efforts to provide free tax preparation for ALICE and poverty-level residents click here.
*Suburban Essex County towns served by United Way of Northern New Jersey include the Caldwells, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Livingston, Millburn-Short Hills, Montclair, Roseland, and Verona.
United Way of Northern New Jersey is a nonprofit organization working to improve people’s lives and strengthen communities by focusing on Education, Income, and Health. These are the building blocks for a good life – a quality education that leads to a stable job; the tools needed to achieve financial stability; and good health. We lead caring communities to create long-lasting changes that transform people’s lives. Together, united, we can inspire hope and create opportunities for a better tomorrow. United Way of Northern New Jersey serves Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties as well as portions of suburban Essex County, including the Caldwells, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Livingston, Millburn-Short Hills, Montclair, Roseland, and Verona. Give. Advocate. Volunteer. LIVE UNITED. To learn more, call (973) 993.1160 or click here.