Updating NJ Legislature Page

There are a number of new faces in Trenton this month. There are four new faces in the State Senate and sixteen in the Assembly. The NJ Legislature page which has been online since 1994 – prior to the legislature’s own website – is in the process of adding these names and contact informaton. Please be patient, if not consult https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/.

The newly sworn in Senate and Assembly members are:

  • Senator Edward Durr (R-03)
  • Senator Jean Stanfield (R-08)
  • Senator Andrew Zwicker (D-16)
  • Senator Jon Bramnick (R-21)
  • Senator Gordon Johnson (D-37)
  • Assemblyman Don Guardian (R-02)
  • Assemblywoman Claire Swift (R-02)
  • Assemblywoman Bethanne McCarthy Patrick (R-03)
  • Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer (R-03)
  • Assemblyman Michael Torrissi Jr. (R-08)
  • Assemblyman Brandon Umba (R-08)
  • Assemblywoman Kimberly Eulner (R-11)
  • Assemblywoman Marilyn Piperno (R-11)
  • Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn (R-13)
  • Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer (D-16)
  • Assemblyman Reginald Atkins (D-20)
  • Assemblywoman Michele Matsikoudis (R-21)
  • Assemblyman Christian Barranco (R-26)
  • Assemblyman William Sampson IV (R-31)
  • Assemblywoman Shama Haider (D-37)
  • Assemblywoman Ellen Park (D-37)

Please contact me with any new district office contact information you have.

Help With Tax Preparation

The Earned Income Tax Credit -EITC – is perhaps the best safety net program I’ve ever known. Actually, it is part of the tax code. Nonetheless, I have written about it in nine of the past twelve years in this blog. This year I’ll try to keep it simple.

Millions of taxpayers don’t get an EITC credit for a number of reasons. They don’t know about it, they are perhaps paying income tax for the first time, or because tax preparation is way too complicated or expensive.

There is free tax software, if you read the fine print. Remember, the devil is in the details. Here are a couple tax assistance programs and how to access them. The first is Free File, a partnership between tax software companies and the IRS. This is the fine print you will read on the Free File website:

IRS Free File lets you prepare and file your federal income tax online for free. File at an IRS partner site with the IRS Free File Program or use Free File Fillable Forms. It’s safe, easy and no cost to you for a federal return. 

To receive a free federal tax return, you must select an IRS Free File provider from the Browse All Offers page or your Online Lookup Tool results. Once you click your desired IRS Free File provider, you will leave the IRS.gov website and land on the IRS Free File provider’s website. Then, you must create an account at the IRS Free File provider’s website accessed via Irs.gov to prepare and file your return.  Please note that an account created at the same provider’s commercial tax preparation website does NOT work with IRS Free File: you MUST access the provider’s Free File site as instructed above.

The other is MyFreeTaxes. United Way provides MyFreeTaxes in partnership with the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

Local, county, and state government need to do more to spread the word. A number of organizations provide outreach tool kits to enable effective outreach campaigns. Let’s reach those who need the help the most. Participate on EITC Awareness Day, the last Friday in January.

There is a conspiracy that prevents tax filing from being easy. K Street lobbyist prevent IRS from sending out partially-prepared tax forms to each taxpayer. Do a web search: “lobbyist oppose free IRS tax software”. Write your Members of Congress to ask why.

My Earned Income Tax Credit page has been updated for the 2021 tax season to include up-to-date EITC income-eligibility guidelines plus links to programs mentioned above.

Jim Warren, R.I.P. (1936 – 2021)

Jim Warren was a mentor of mine, although it took a long time to realize it. My brief encounter with him occurred in 1994 when some of us in New Jersey were lobbying the state legislature to pass an internet bill. He had been instrumental the year before in passage of landmark California Assembly Bill 1624, for government documents to be made available on “the largest nonproprietary, nonprofit cooperative public computer network.”

He was described as a Renaissance Man by a close friend. A New York Times obituary by Steve Lohr said he was “a charismatic trade show impresario, editor, and activist.” A most touching online obit proclaimed, “A mighty tree has fallen in the digital forest.” All true.

Jim Warren’s digital footprint includes: a NYT obituary, a page on IMDb.com, his own GovAccess blog and a video on Vimeo.com.

Thank you, Jim Warren.