[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                    January 25, 2008

Tax help available for military at 
McCoy VITA Center

      Last-minute changes or continuations approved by the U.S. Congress were among the topics that personnel who will help staff the Fort McCoy Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Center gained expertise in while completing their training/certification process.

Photo: Personnel from the Fort McCoy community review federal income tax provisions during VITA training at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Personnel from the Fort McCoy community review federal income tax provisions during VITA training at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

      The Fort McCoy VITA Center, building 1644, is accepting calls for appointments, which will begin Monday, Feb. 4, said Rita Byers of the Fort McCoy VITA Center. The free services are available to active-duty military personnel, retirees and their family members. Active-duty personnel will have priority. The services also will include free e-filing of returns.

      The Fort McCoy VITA volunteers can handle routine return forms for individuals, Byers said.

      People who have federal income tax returns that include five special tax forms relating to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) legislation will not be able to schedule an appointment until at least Monday, Feb. 11. John Lulay of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said Feb. 11 is the target date for the IRS to have updated and tested their computer systems to handle the revised forms.

      An IRS press release said the form revision will affect as many as 13.5 million taxpayers.

      Five other provisions were extended for the 2007 federal income tax return season and are: 1) the deduction from adjusted gross income (AGI) for education expenses; 2) the deduction for qualified tuition and fees: 3) the District of Columbia first-time homebuyer credit (for homes purchased before Jan. 1, 2008); 4) the election to include nontaxable combat pay in earned income for figuring the earned income credit; and 5) the itemized deduction for state and local general sales taxes. Lulay noted that servicemembers declaring the standard amount for this will do so for the state of their official residence, not the state where they are serving.

VITA sites located throughout area

      In addition to Fort McCoy, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites will be available in Tomah and Sparta in Monroe County.

      Tomah VA Medical Center will offer VITA assistance to veterans and the general public, who generally have lower incomes. Veterans will have preference. Services will be free and include completing simple tax forms for individuals and e-filing.

      Personnel interested in this service can call (608) 372-1242 and leave a message. Volunteers will get back to the callers and tell them if they qualify and what documents/forms they need to have.

      VITA services also will be available at the Sparta Barney Center, 1000 E. Montgomery St. The facility is open to the public. Office hours will be from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Fridays.

      Services will include assistance with simple, individual tax forms and e-filing.

      To make an appointment or for more information, call (608) 269-8968.

      More information about VITA sites/services also is available by visiting the Web site 
http://www.dor.state.wi.us and typing in the words "VITA sites" in the search area.

      A number of increases in limits or contributions to retirement savings plans, including Individual Retirement Accounts and pension plans, were enacted, he said.

      Other increases in tax items included those for earned income credits, standard deductions, adoption tax credit and Hope or lifetime learning credit income limits. Standard deductions have increased to $5,350 (up $200) if filing as a single or married filing separately; $10,700 (up $400) if filing married jointly or qualifying widow(er); or $7,850 (up $300) for head of household.

      Several changes are in store for people who itemize their deductions.

      Lulay said record keeping for deducting cash contributions (charity) as part of itemized deductions has gotten stricter. The new guidelines require each amount to be documented by a written communication from a charity or a bank record, such as a canceled check or bank statement. These do not have to be shown to the tax preparer, but must be available if they are requested.

      In addition, people paying mortgage insurance premiums (private mortgage insurance) may be able to treat these funds that are paid in connection with home acquisition debt (rolled into the repayment cost of a mortgage) as home mortgage interest.

      People who were eligible, but didn't claim the telephone excise tax credit on their 2006 federal income tax returns, still can file an amended 1040X to receive this credit, Lulay said. For people who weren't required to file a 2006 return, they can submit 2006 Form 1040EZ-T, Request for Refund of Federal Telephone Excise Tax.

      Information about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and eligibility can be found at the Web site http://www.irs-eitc.info/SPEC/. The EITC is a valuable, but complex, tax break for lower income workers. Personnel who meet certain income and/or investment limits are eligible for this credit. Special activities are planned for Thursday, Jan. 31, as part of a special awareness day. People who are eligible for EITC often are eligible for free tax preparation assistance.

      For more information about federal income taxes, including instructions and forms, visit http://www.irs.gov. For information about e-filing federal income tax returns, visit http://www.irs.gov/efile. People who e-file their taxes can request direct deposit.

      Fort McCoy VITA volunteers also can help complete or find assistance to help taxpayers complete state tax returns, such as those for Wisconsin.

      New features for 2007 Wisconsin state returns include increasing the tuition and fees paid maximum subtraction to $4,843 per student. New credits include an Internet equipment credit, the enterprise zone jobs credit and the dairy manufacturing facility investment credit. The deduction for exemptions line (17 on Wisconsin Form 1) has been redesigned to help prevent errors. This line gives deductions of $700 for each exemption claimed on the federal income tax returns or $250 (if 65 or older).

      For more information about forms, instructions and e-filing, visit the Wisconsin Department of Revenue Web site at http://www.revenue.wi.gov.

      Eligible personnel in the Fort McCoy community can get volunteer or tax questions answered by calling (608) 388-4117.

      For general information about the Fort McCoy VITA program and to make appointments, call (608) 388-2165.


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