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 of this program is to enhance readiness by assisting service members to prepare and file free federal and state tax returns with H&R Block’s user-friendly software accessed through Military OneSource, with volunteers standing by to answer questions,” said Lt. Tracy Waller, Navy VITA/Electronic Filing(ELF)program manager. “Our services are available to everyone who qualifies for legal assistance. Members who are not eligible to register for a Military OneSource account should be aware that they may not be able to file for free if their adjusted gross income exceeds $58,000.”
All qualifying active duty service members and their dependents 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.
“The goal is that no service member will have to pay for commercial tax preparation unless he or she chooses to do so,” said Waller. “Our programs are just as reliable as any commercial software. However, some members may have more complicated returns that exceed the scope of the VITA/ELF program. Those members will need to seek the assistance of a commercial tax preparer.”
The local center is located in the legal assistance office in Building P-20 at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) with services available by appointment only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and by calling (202) 767-7588. Other VITA centers in the region are located at Naval Support Activity Annapolis and Naval Air Station Patuxent River.
Before going to a VITA/ELF office, Waller advises personnel 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, Waller recommended that members should bring all documents relating to tax year 2013.
To find the nearest VITA center, or for more information, visit the Navy JAG Corps web site at http://www.jag.navy.mil/.