Thousands of New Jersey families are at risk of missing out on millions they are due this tax season, according to new research from United Way of Northern New Jersey.

Recent findings show that 138,000 households — or 50% of eligible families — have not yet received any Child Tax Credit payments, leaving an estimated $415 million unclaimed, according to a United Way of Northern New Jersey press release.

Last year’s American Rescue Plan expanded the credit to reach more families, including those United Way calls ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) who earn above the poverty level, but less than what is needed to afford the basics, the release said. To receive the full credit payment, families will need to file a return this year.

“By filing their taxes this year, families who are struggling to afford the basics could receive a much-needed financial lifeline,” Kiran Handa Gaudioso, United Way of Northern New Jersey CEO, said in the release. “Any credit or refund they receive can mean the heat stays on; child care is covered; rent is paid.”

United Way and its partners — the IRS, Norwescap, and Greater Providence Missionary Baptist Church — are offering free tax preparation and filing services. Using a safe and secure online portal, residents can file both state and federal returns.

Tax filers can access the online system on United Way's website at uwnnj.org/freetaxprep, which features secure document uploads, encrypted email communication and video conferencing. Assistance and forms are available in both English and Spanish, the release said.