Free income tax preparation program available

By Barbara PeroneMP900382678

If you meet certain criteria, a local, volunteer Tax Preparer will electronically file your state and federal income taxes for free.

To take advantage of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program individuals must:

  • have a low-to-moderate annual income, or
  • have a disability, or
  • be a non-English speaking taxpayer, or
  • be eligible for an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), available to those who worked and earned income under certain limits, based upon their filing status, or
  • be part of the United States (U.S.) military

You may also participate in the program if you earn less than $55,000 a-year, according to the organization’s website at

In 1971, the VITA program began when a California college professor wanted to help some of his accounting students get hands-on experience preparing income taxes. The professor asked local taxpayers to let his pupils prepare their returns; in exchange, he agreed not to charge them for the service. Years later, the students’ efforts snowballed and transformed into this nationwide program.

To find out whether you qualify for VITA and locate a volunteer tax preparer in your area, visit the organization’s website or call 1.800.906.9887.

Bonus Tips

If you are in-between jobs and have a background in accounting, mathematics, or a general interest in learning about income tax preparation, volunteering for the VITA program may be a good skill to add to your résumé.

You’ll have to attend training sessions, sponsored by the IRS, and take an online test, but once you pass you’ll receive a Certificate of Recognition and Letter of Appreciation from the IRS, which you can add to your résumé.

Once certified, you will be required to work a minimum of 40 hours, from late-January to mid-April, at a VITA site near you. To find out more about volunteering for VITA visit their website at

To volunteer for VITA, in Somerset County, visit the county’s Office of Volunteer Services & Volunteer Opportunities at or call the Volunteer Services Coordinator, Bill Crosby, at 908.704.6358 or send an email to

Other Tips

Offered through Somerset County’s United Way, in partnership with the Emanuel Community Development Corporation, IRS-trained VITA volunteers will provide free income tax assistance at the following locations in central New Jersey.

Location Phone number
Bernardsville Public Library (908) 766-0118
Bernard’s Township Library (Basking Ridge) (908) 204-3031, extension 2
Bound Brook Presbyterian Church (732) 356-3575
Bridgewater Commons Mall (908) 218-1166
Bridgewater Senior Center (908) 541-5710
Congregational Church of Bound Brook 908) 253-6537
Franklin Township Library (Somerset) (908) 541-5710
Green Brook Municipal Building (908) 541-5710
Hillsborough Public Library (908) 541-5710
Manville Public Library (908) 541-5710
Raritan Alternatives, Inc. (for English/Spanish tax payers) (908) 253-6537
Raritan Valley Community College (Branchburg) (908) 253-6537
Somerset United Way office (Bridgewater) (908) 253-6537
Wal-Mart (Watchung) (908) 756-1925
Warrenbrook Park Nutrition Site (Warren) (908) 541-5710
Washington School (Raritan Borough) (908) 541-5710

Tax Preparers will file all returns electronically and keep all information confidential. For more details about Somerset County’s VITA program, call Irene Natale at 908.253.6511 or contact her at

More Tips

Did you know you could deduct the cost of diet food from your state and federal income taxes?

As part of your medical/dental deductions, the IRS allows you deduct such food along with payments for a weight loss program, for a specific disease or diseases, including obesity, diagnosed by a physician. You can also deduct the cost of your annual health club dues.

Of course, you have to have the appropriate receipts. A good way to obtain individual receipts for your diet food purchases is to ask the cashier to wring up a separate receipt each time you buy them.

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