Gottheimer isits Path 2 Prosperity Tax Event in Newton

| 21 Mar 2019 | 01:17

    Newton - U.S. Representative Josh Gottheimer (D, NJ-5) made a stop in Newton on Monday morning, Mar 18, to meet with volunteers at Path 2 Prosperity and hear about their mission and their concerns as they aid low-income residents and senior citizens with their tax returns. Path 2 Prosperity is a social services program founded in 2008 under the NORWESCAP umbrella, with offices in the lower level of the Christ Episcopal Church on the corner of Main and Church streets.
    Gottheimer’s visit coincides with his recent backing of what he calls the “anti-moocher” bill, legislation which would take the $10,000 limit off of federal SALT deductions.
    “With the limitations on SALT [State and Local Tax], unfortunately, a lot of my Sussex County constituents saw their taxes go up,” the Congressman said, “I don’t like to see anyone’s taxes go up. The cap was great for other states, where they get more pennies to the dollar, but not here in New Jersey.”
    The SALT deduction allows homeowners to file for a federal refund on money paid as state and municipal property taxes. The current cap means a larger burden to many New Jersey taxpayers, in a state which boasts some of the highest property tax rates in the country.
    “It’s already very expensive to be here,” Gottheimer said, “We need to make it more affordable.”
    While Gottheimer is trying to change the SALT regulations on a federal level, some state lawmakers are already working to mitigate the cap’s effects on small business owners in New Jersey. The bill (S3246), which was introduced by Morris County Republican Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, would allow the owners of S-Corps and Limited Liability Corporations to place tax burdens upon the businesses, not their personal income taxes. It passed through the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Monday, Mar. 18.
    Gottheimer spoke at length with Path 2 Prosperity volunteers about the other challenges they see as they work on tax preparations, which are made possible at the agency through the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program and the agency’s volunteers from the Senior Corps, a division of AmeriCorps, which is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. IRS-trained volunteers help those with low- or fixed-incomes with their tax preparation at no cost, saving them an average of $275, a sum which for many might be the difference between having or not having food on the table.
    Neal Feier, who worked as a tax professional for 40 years, is recently retired and in his first year working with the volunteer program. He told the congressman he’s been seeing a lot of people having trouble navigating the new tax laws and the Affordable Care Act.
    “We have people struggling, working two, three jobs, and still not getting by,” Feier said. “And then they are in fear of penalties which they won’t be able to pay. It can be frustrating.”
    Gottheimer said the program was incredibly important, and listened as volunteers described the other services provided at Path 2 Prosperity, from weekly group meals, mentoring and tutoring, life coaching, and child enrichment programs.
    “Our broad swath of social services at NORWESCAP allowed us to put this program together,” NORWESCAP CEO Mark Valli said, “But we couldn’t do this without our Senior Corps and our other volunteers.”
    Program Director Dianna Morrison said the tax preparation is just a small piece of the puzzle for the population that Path 2 Prosperity serves.
    “We are getting families on a resilient path, teaching them skills to get from a job to a career, from paying bills to building savings,” she said, “and then they come back and mentor others.”
    After sitting down with the volunteers and looking over the tax preparation software, Gottheimer presented NORWESCAP and Path 2 Progress with a certificate of recognition for its efforts in the Sussex County community.
    “I want to tell you all,” he said, “that I really am grateful for your work.”

    1- Path 2 Prosperity and Senior Corps volunteer Neal Feier (L), a retired tax professional, speaks with Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D, NJ-5) about the challenges of the new tax laws and working with low-income populations to navigate their income tax returns, at a meeting held Monday, March 18, 2019, at the Path 2 Prosperity offices in Newton.

    2- Volunteer Hank Jelinek (R) and Rep. Gottheimer go over tax preparation software at a meeting held Monday, March 18, 2019, at the offices of Path 2 Prosperity in Newton.

    3- Rep. Josh Gotteheimer (L) and NORWESCAP CEO Mark Valli (R) speak with volunteers at Path 2 Prosperity in Newton on Monday, March 18, 2019.

    4- (L-R) NORWESCAP CEO Mark Valli, NORWESCAP's Emily Perez-Irizarry, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, Path 2 Prosperity Director Dianna Morrison, and Melissa Allen, state director for the Corp. for National and Community Service. Congressman Gottheimer was in Newton on Monday, March 18, 2019 to meet with volunteers, and presented NORWESCAP and Path 2 Prosperity with a certificate of recognition for their community outreach services.