With the deadline to file income tax returns arriving this coming Monday, April 17, the city of Newark and Newark Now are providing free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA).
For information on where to go for free tax preparation, or to volunteer with Newark Now VITA, please call 973-624-FREE (3733) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residents should bring the following items to the VITA sites: personal ID; Social Security cards and dates of birth for the taxpayer, spouse, children and other claimed dependents; amount of 2011 payments for student loan interest, child care expenses, and college tuition; all W-2 and 1098 statements; copy of 2010 tax return, if available; and tax related documents; and proof of bank account.
Newark Now's VITA program was launched in 2004 under the supervision of the Internal Revenue Service. The VITA program exists to encourage people in urban areas to take advantage of the earned income-tax credit. The VITA program provides free tax services available to low- and moderate- income New Jersey families who earn $50,000 or less. The VITA program was established to help residents receive the maximum tax credits and refunds allowable by law. Other partners in this initiative include the New Jersey Treasury Department’s Division of Taxation and the Newark Asset Building Coalition.
“Over the past nine years, Newark Now’s VITA program has put millions of dollars back into the pockets of our city’s low income and single household families. This year, the City of Newark is once again joining forces with Newark Now and our other community partners to continue to offer this vital program and I am excited to announce that thanks to a federal grant, our VITA services are being offered to residents who live in three Northern New Jersey counties. I commend all of our VITA volunteers for their service and commitment to financially empowering all of our residents who are in need,” said Mayor Cory Booker.
Newark Now announced a continuing partnership with SaveUSA, a program to encourage residents to open savings accounts by providing 50 cents in matching funds for every dollar saved. Newarkers utilizing VITA’s services will have the opportunity to participate in SaveUSA by directing $1,000 or more of their refund into a savings account. After a year, SaveUSA will provide a 50 percent match of all savings in the account. Last year the program opened more than 350 bank accounts for tax filers. New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) drives the SaveUSA program, which is a federal Social Innovation Fund grant awarded to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and the Center for Economic Opportunity.
As many Newarkers continue to contend with the effects of the recession, VITA aims to help residents take full advantage of various tax incentives, like the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, and ensure they get the most out of their refund.
VITA also assists high school and college students to complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This year, Newark Now has already assisted more than 630 students with the FAFSA form.
VITA is operated by Newark Now’s Financial Empowerment Center (FEC), which directly connects thousands of Newarkers annually to important governmental, financial, and legal services. In addition to running VITA, FEC provides benefit screening and assistance with public benefits, as well as aides residents in finding emergency funding. The FEC offers Newark residents assistance with finding free or discounted prescription drugs through the innovative program Newark Rx.