Free tax preparation to be provided for East Orange residents

Fifth from left are East Orange General Hospital Director of Human Resources Robert Mays, Ladonna Johns of the Mayor’s Office of Employment and Training, Mayor Ted R. Green, EOGH President and Chief Executive Officer Paige Dworak, and United Way of Greater Newark President Catherine Wilson, standing with other supporters, at the ribbon-cutting of the tax preparation site on the first floor of East Orange General Hospital on Monday, Jan. 13.

EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange partnered with the United Way of Greater Newark, East Orange General Hospital and the IRS’s Volunteers in Tax Assistance Program to host a tax preparation site on the first floor of East Orange General Hospital. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was on Monday, Jan. 13.

The site will provide free tax preparation services to East Orange residents through Thursday, April 30.

Paige Dworak, president and chief executive officer of East Orange General Hospital, said they’ve donated use of the space for the tax site.

“We donated the existing space to the IRS’s Volunteers in Tax Assistance Program, which is known as the VITA,” Dworak said via phone interview to the newspaper on Friday, Jan. 17. “VITA can do the tax preparation for household incomes who make less than $64,000.”

According to the press release sent by the Mayor’s Office to the newspaper on Friday, Jan. 10, qualifying families and individuals with an annual gross household income of $64,000 or less will be able to have both federal and state returns electronically filed free of cost. Returns are prepared by IRS certified volunteers, saving taxpayers an average of $200 per return. The free tax preparation program has seen tremendous success in previous years, serving 336 taxpayers with returns totaling $556,008 for East Orange residents.

Catherine Wilson, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Greater Newark, said this partnership came to fruition because of their goal.

“We originally approached East Orange General Hospital, because we knew they wanted to partner with the community and we wanted to put a free tax site in East Orange,” Wilson said in a quote sent to the newspaper on Friday, Jan. 17. “A hospital is a good place to meet people where they are in the community.”

Wilson said she loves the partnership, which started in 2016, and thanked the mayor and East Orange General Hospital for their continuing support.

“East Orange General Hospital was the first in our region to allow us to provide this free service to its patients,” Wilson said. “Last year, residents who used this site received over $500,000 in federal and state refunds. We believe in meeting people where they are, creating strategies to build assets and addressing the social determinants of health. We love this partnership and thank the hospital and mayor for their continuing support.”

Dworak praised the partnership and how it provided for the community.

“The partnership is fantastic,” Dworak said. “It’s been an honor to work with everyone to be able to provide this type of service to our community.”

East Orange Mayor Ted Green was also at the event and said the goal is to provide a maximum refund for the families of East Orange.

“Our goal for this free and convenient program is to put a maximum refund in the hands of hard-working families in East Orange,” said Green in the press release. “Refunds that are brought into the community not only benefit families, but keep our economy robust and revolving.”

The hours of the free tax preparation program are Mondays, noon to 5 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3 to 8 p.m.; and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. No appointments are required.

Residents should come prepared with current photo ID, Social Security card for themselves and their dependents, all income documents, W-2s, etc., as well as account information for direct deposit.