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December 14, 2012

Community

VITA Center to accept tax preparation appointments beginning Jan. 22

The Fort McCoy Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Center will provide income tax preparation services beginning in February for authorized personnel, to include e-filing of both federal and state income tax returns at no charge.

Eligible personnel include active-duty personnel; regular retirees; Reserve retirees drawing their military pension; Reserve personnel on active duty; and their Family members.

An important change will affect the eligibility of some retirees to use the service. Tax preparation services for retirees will be limited to those households with a 2011 adjusted gross income (AGI) of $100,000 or less.

This change is consistent with guidelines set forth by the VITA program and is being implemented due to limited resources. This change only affects retirees. Active-duty and Reserve military personnel and their Family members are not affected by AGI limits and will be eligible to use the VITA program.

Another change is that Col. Audrey J. Lewis, one of the Fort McCoy VITA coordinators, has worked with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and obtained approval for the inaugural use of a stand-alone, free, tax-service terminal at the Installation Legal Office (ILO), building 1644. Plans are for this terminal to be available on a first-come, first-served basis for all eligible VITA clients with AGIs of $57,000 and less. Essentially, clients will prepare their return at no cost, digitally sign with a created pin, and e-file their returns themselves. ILO VITA staff will be available to answer tax questions and aid in navigation of the system. Under this program, however; unlike VITA prepared returns, the return must be prepared, signed, and submitted by the clients.

Jim Markgraf, who serves as the other Fort McCoy VITA coordinator, said many volunteers from last year’s program, including Air Force personnel, have indicated their intent to return as volunteers and assist clients. Rita Byers, Fort McCoy’s VITA coordinator for many years until her retirement, will return in a limited role as a volunteer, as well.

The Fort McCoy VITA Center will begin scheduling appointments for income tax assistance starting Jan. 22, with actual tax return preparation beginning the first full week of February.

VITA services are free and include federal and state income tax preparation and e-filing services. IRS officials recommend e-filing of income tax returns because e-filing gets refunds into taxpayers’ hands more quickly and tends to be more accurate than manually completing and mailing the returns. E-filing also gives taxpayers confirmation their tax returns have been received.

Websites for income tax returns are: federal at www.irs.gov; and State of Wisconsin at www.revenue.wi.gov. Both of these websites offer excellent information for anyone preparing their tax returns. Electronic versions of income tax forms also are available at these sites. Paper copies of tax forms are no longer available in bulk.

For the time being, personnel are encouraged to begin identifying and assembling the documents they will need to prepare and submit their tax returns, such as, Social Security cards; tax-withholding statements (W-2s); interest or dividend statements (1099s); property tax payment records; written records of any other itemized deductions; and, all other pertinent tax documents.

Many other organizations offer VITA services with free income tax-return assistance. The Tomah Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center again will offer a VITA Program for qualified veterans and the public based on income guidelines. AARP also provides free tax-preparation services at multiple locations within the state.

For more information about tax forms or documentation needed for VITA services at Fort McCoy, call ILO at 608-388-4117. Appointments won’t be accepted before Jan. 22.

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