Washington, D.C. - The National League of Cities (NLC) launched a marketing campaign this month with the National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC) to raise awareness of free tax prep options for low- and medium-income residents in New Jersey. Coordinated through NLC's Institute for Youth, Education and Families, the campaign features targeted bus ads, public service announcements and online tools to promote the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and recruit volunteers who want to help families achieve economic success.
The VITA program offers free tax help from IRS-certified volunteers to people who make $52,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. In 2013, more than 3.3 million families and individuals visited a VITA location, which are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other convenient locations, for tax assistance including information about special tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. To find a list of VITA sites by location, visit: www.bit.ly/taxprepfree.
"The VITA program is an excellent resource for low- and medium-income families to receive information and assistance in filing their taxes," said NLC President Chris Coleman, Mayor of Saint Paul, Minn. "The program exemplifies the shared commitment of the National League of Cities and National Community Tax Coalition to raise awareness about resources that empower families to achieve economic success."
In addition to VITA sites throughout the state, online help is available through www.myfreetaxes.com/NCTC_NJ. On that website, individuals or families making a combined income of $58,000 or less can complete their tax returns on their own in a few simple steps at no cost.
"The online self-preparation option allows individuals to prepare their own return from wherever they choose and comes with built in lifelines by clicking a button to chat with a certified volunteer or calling the helpline for assistance," said Jackie Lynn Coleman, NCTC President and CEO. "This saves hardworking Americans invaluable time and money that can be invested into their families."
Bus ads will be displayed on buses servicing targeted routes in New Jersey, and feature a quote from U.S. Senator Cory A. Booker telling riders, "By saving on tax prep and getting connected to resources, you can invest where it's most needed...your family." In addition, a television public service announcement featuring Senator Booker will play statewide encouraging eligible residents to visit a VITA site where they can also receive financial coaching and healthcare application assistance.
The program also encourages community participation and provides training for individuals who want to become a "Tax Volunteer." In 2013, nearly 92,000 volunteers participated in the program. For information on how to volunteer or find the nearest VITA location to you, visit the IRS information page: www.bit.ly/taxprepfree.
About the National League of Cities - The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.
About the National Community Tax Coalition - The National Community Tax Coalition is the nation's largest, most comprehensive membership organization for community-based organizations offering free tax and financial services to low-income working families. The coalition's network of more than 2,800 members across the country is dedicated to strengthening economies, building communities and improving lives through tax assistance and asset building activities that produce financial security, protect families and promote economic justice. www.tax-coalition.org