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DoD-IRS Partnership Assists Troops at Tax Time

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2005 – With the April 15 federal tax-filing deadline fast approaching, servicemembers should know there's free help available to get those tax forms filled out and sent to Uncle Sam.

The Internal Revenue Service's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program sites at military installations worldwide provide free tax preparation help to servicemembers, according to an IRS news release.

DoD's Armed Forces Tax Council oversees military tax programs worldwide and acts as a liaison between the IRS and military members and their families. VITA offices at military installations and onboard ships provide free-of-charge tax advice, tax preparation and other assistance to servicemembers and their families.

Tax advisers are trained to address military-specific tax issues, such as combat-zone tax benefits and the impact of new earned-income tax credit rules.

IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson is slated to visit with sailors aboard the carrier USS Ronald Reagan, berthed in San Diego, on April 12. The Reagan is the latest VITA-site location and reportedly has multiple VITA stations.

A VITA station onboard a ship could have two or three computers and be staffed by military personnel -- either a volunteer helping out on his or her own time or an on-duty sailor. There, sailors can sit down and do their taxes on computer.

During one tax-filing season, according to an IRS official, amphibious assault ship USS Tarawa electronically filed more than 300 returns from the middle of the Persian Gulf.

All told, VITA sites processed almost 400,000 electronic 2003 federal income tax returns.

Servicemembers should check with their local legal assistance offices to locate VITA -sponsored tax preparation assistance counselors.

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