by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Pedro A. Rodriguez
The Naval District Washington Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Center is now open for business and ready to assist service members and their families with their tax preparation at no cost.
The VITA program provides free tax-filing assistance to active duty service members and their dependents, retirees and their dependents with adjusted gross incomes of less than $58,000, DoD civilians overseas or deployed with the U.S. Armed Forces, and, in limited cases military reservists.
“The primary purpose behind the program is to educate young military members about how to do their taxes, what are some of the credits and resources out there to help them and to keep as much of their money in their own pockets so they don’t have to pay it to outside providers,” said Carol Allison, Navy VITA/Electronic Filing (ELF) program manager. “Sometimes those providers talk members into rapid anticipated loans which they don’t need, we can help them with their taxes, do direct deposit with their refund and they can have it in their bag just about as quick as they can anywhere else, but they’re not having to pay the money to get that.”
All qualifying active duty service members, their dependents, retirees and reservist on active duty status will be able to file both federal and state tax returns for free. Additionally, all of the centers are staffed with certified volunteers, who can assist with questions.
Taxes are submitted electronically, and refunds are deposited directly into a Sailor’s bank account on an average of two weeks from the date of transmission according to Waller.
In addition to learning how to file their own taxes, personnel who use the VITA/ELF program will usually end up saving money by filing themselves instead of going to a tax preparation company.
“This program wouldn’t exist without the volunteers that take the time to take the training and pass the Internal Revenue Service certification to come in and help their co-workers,” said Allison. “The fact that the program is a way to get out and educate not only the clients we see, but the volunteers also learn a lot of things with their own taxes. They may not know they could’ve been saving money and also it gives them the chance to try a job that they may like.”
The local center is located at the Fleet and Family Support Center, 6027 School House Ln., Ste. 208 at Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren and at the Morale Welfare and Recreation building at NSF Indian Head, with services available by appointment only. To set up an appointment call (540) 653-1839. Before going to a VITA/ELF office, Allison advises costumers to bring the following items to ensure proper and thorough tax filing:
- W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, and other tax forms
- Bank account/routing information for direct deposit of refunds
- Applicable receipts for Schedule A and adjustment items
- If filing in the status of “Married Filing Jointly,” both taxpayers must be present to sign the return or present a signed power of attorney for taxes.
Additionally, Allison recommended that members should bring all documents relating to tax year 2014.
To find the nearest VITA center, or for more information, visit the Navy JAG Corps web site at http://www.jag.navy.mil/.