[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                  February 11, 2011

McCoy VITA program preparing military income-tax returns

Story & photo by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

Income tax-return assistance for active-duty or retired military personnel and their Family members is available for those in the Fort McCoy community.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) appointments for eligible personnel will be accepted through April 14, said Rita Byers, Fort McCoy VITA coordinator. The assistance covers most simple forms for individuals filing federal and state income-tax returns. Byers said the returns also will be e-filed to help military taxpayers get their refunds quickly.

PHOTO: Master Sgt. Kenneth Macon (right), of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and staff member of the Installation Legal Office, helps Spc. Joseph Kleemeier complete his income- tax returns. Photo by Rob Schuette
Master Sgt. Kenneth Macon (right), of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and staff member of the Installation Legal Office, helps Spc. Joseph Kleemeier complete his income- tax returns.

Military taxpayers who benefit from Schedule A deductions, such as itemized deductions and sales-tax/income-tax deductions, must wait until Feb. 14 to make appointments for filing assistance, Byers said.

“These revisions (for Schedule A taxpayers) were approved in December so it took a little longer to prepare for it,” Byers said. “People need to have receipts for the contributions or donations so we can enter them onto the forms.”

Because of the delay for filers who use Schedule A, Byers said VITA began by assisting the E-Z filers.

Another continuation that benefits many military filers is the extension of the tax credit of $1,000 for each child younger than 17, rather than a proposed reduction to $500.

This is the final year taxpayers can take advantage of the “Make Work Pay” deduction. Byers said the two-year program expired so taxpayers should take that into account for their 2011 income taxes, which they just have begun paying.

Taxpayers with questions about the credit for first-time home buyers, credits for energy-efficient projects, teacher credits, etc., can find more information at the website http://www.irs.gov.

This year federal and state returns are being e-filed separately so that if taxpayers have no federal tax liability, they can still e-file state returns.

Byers said taxpayers who file their state income tax returns for the states of Alabama, Indiana, Connecticut or Nebraska, must file their federal tax returns at the same time they file their federal income-tax returns.

“For the state of Wisconsin, this option will help those claiming the Homestead Credit,” Byers said. “Wisconsin provides an adjustment for Social Security and a subtraction for military pensions.”

Some tax filers also may be eligible for a credit for medical insurance costs, Byers said. This includes those with both medical insurance through an employer or who are self-employed and Medicare insurance Parts B and D.

Each state has its own website for income tax information. For Wisconsin, the sites are http://www.revenue.wi.gov and for forms/instructions http://www.revenue.wi.gov/html/formpub.html.

Master Sgt. Kenneth Macon, a member of the Installation Legal Office staff, is a VITA volunteer for this tax season. Macon has helped provide VITA services for several years. He brings his experience as a Soldier who has filed income-tax returns to help ensure military personnel get all the deductions/credits they are entitled to.

Byers said the Legal Office supports Soldiers, which includes helping them file their taxes. Other VITA volunteers for this tax season include civilians and several Air Force personnel.

“I enjoy helping the military people complete and submit their forms to get their returns,” Macon said. “This helps them get their financial affairs in order and have one less thing to worry about so they can concentrate on their jobs and their missions. We get many repeat customers, such as the retirees, and get a lot of new customers as they find out about our services.”

Military-eligible personnel wishing to make an appointment for Fort McCoy VITA services can call 608-388-2165.

Customers are encouraged to fill out a tax information worksheet before the appointment, Byers said. The worksheet is available on the Fort McCoy Corporate Network, the Fort McCoy Extranet through the public website http://www.mccoy.army.mil, or by e-mail.

For more information about military income-tax returns in the Fort McCoy community, call Byers at 608-388-4117.

Military personnel also can prepare their taxes through the Military OneSource site from a link at the website http://www.militaryonesource.com or at http://www.militaryonesource.com/MOS/FindInformation/Category/TaxFilingServices.aspx.

For military with specific questions, tax consultants are available daily from 7 a.m. - 11 p.m. Eastern time by calling the Military OneSource Tax Hotline at 1-800-730-3802.

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