The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties launched a free income tax assistance program aimed at helping low and moderate income workers maximize their tax benefits.
The VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) will be offered at six sites, including in Manahawkin, throughout the tax season. IRS-certified tax professionals will help filers complete their state and federal returns.
“The FoodBank’s mission is to build food secure communities in Monmouth and Ocean Counties,” said Carlos M. Rodriguez, executive director of the organization, in a prepared statement. “As The FoodBank works toward more comprehensive solutions to hunger in our communities, connecting low-income families with tax credits, SNAP and other benefits will provide an opportunity to save and strengthen their families financial health. Ultimately, The FoodBank wants people to shop in our local stores for the food they need and make the purchasing decisions that are right for their families.”
To qualify for free tax assistance, households with dependents must earn $51,000 or less, and households with no dependents must earn $30,000 or less.
FoodBank representatives and volunteers will ensure that filers who are eligible will receive important tax credits that they are entitled to, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). In addition, The FoodBank team will connect people with other critical benefits such as SNAP (food stamps), legal assistance, Hurricane Sandy-related aid and emergency food, if needed.
“The EITC is one of the largest and most successful anti-poverty programs in history,” said Rodriguez. “EITC has a proven track record of lifting families out of poverty, putting as much as $5,000 back into the pockets of working families who are living on the edges of poverty. This will not only help families, it will put money back into the local economy at a time when businesses are struggling to recover after Hurricane Sandy.”
The FoodBank’s VITA program is run in partnership with the IRS, Cowan, Gunteski & Co, PA, and the host sites, and is supported by the Robin Hood Foundation and Singlestop USA.
VITA is available at the following sites beginning through April 15:
- Ocean County Library, 101 Washington St., Toms River (Monday & Wednesday 4 – 8 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.)
- Ocean County Southern Service Center, 179 South Main St., Room 6, Manahawkin (Tuesday & Thursday 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.; Friday 12 – 4 p.m.)
- Lakewood Library, 301 Lexington Ave., Lakewood (Tuesday & Thursday 4 – 8 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
- SCAN Adult Education Center, Monmouth Mall, Eatontown (Monday & Thursday 4 – 8 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
- Lunch Break, 103 Drs. James Parker Blvd., Red Bank (Tuesday & Thursday 1- 4 p.m.)
- Hispanic Affairs, 913 Sewall Ave., Asbury Park (Monday & Wednesday 4 – 8 p.m.)
Filers should bring all required documents including a valid photo ID; copies of previous returns; all income statements including W-2, Social Security and unemployment income; 1099 forms, birth dates and Social Security numbers for all dependents and a check showing a Bank Routing Number for direct deposit, if applicable.