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Tax time approaching

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Income tax returns are due April 15 and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is up and running at the Legal Office in building 350 to help file active duty, O-4 and below, and retiree refunds for free. The 30 VITA volunteers are trained in the tax laws and all the new changes, including the Affordable Care Act, Qualified Medicaid Payments and many more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Income tax returns are due April 15 and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is up and running at the Legal Office in building 350 to help file active duty, O-4 and below, and retiree refunds for free. The 30 VITA volunteers are trained in the tax laws and all the new changes, including the Affordable Care Act, Qualified Medicaid Payments and many more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Income tax returns are due April 15, and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is up and running at the Legal Office in building 350 to help file active duty, O-4 and below, and retiree refunds for free. The 30 VITA volunteers are trained in the tax laws and all the new changes, including the Affordable Care Act, Qualified Medicaid Payments and many more, with references available if wanted. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Income tax returns are due April 15, and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is up and running at the Legal Office in building 350 to help file active duty, O-4 and below, and retiree refunds for free. The 30 VITA volunteers are trained in the tax laws and all the new changes, including the Affordable Care Act, Qualified Medicaid Payments and many more, with references available if wanted. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- It's that time of year to file your tax returns to help plan an epic vacation or house project or just save those bountiful pennies. Before you file, are you informed of some of the tax law changes?

Jan Pardalis, Team Pete's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance tax program manager, explains some of this year's changes. Most of the tax laws haven't changed but there are a couple that have, including the Affordable Care Act, Qualified Medicaid Payment, and Internal Revenue Service's plans to decrease identity theft with filing.

One of the main changes this year is the Affordable Care Act. Everyone is required to have minimum essential coverage. This may include TRICARE, Medicare, some comprehensive healthcare plans from the Veterans Affairs or others. Those who were not covered for any month during the year either need to have an exemption or make an Individual Shared Responsibility payment of $95 per person or $285 per family. The payment amount will increase next year and the years after.

Qualified Medicaid waiver payments are made by a state or certified Medicaid provider to an individual care provider for nonmedical support services to a person (related or unrelated) living in the individual care provider's home. The money received used to be taxable but now is not, said Pardalis. If someone receiving these payments gets a Form 1099-MISC reporting the payment in box 3, they do not need to include it on their tax return. If the taxpayer receives a Form W-2 it needs to be reported, but they can choose to exclude the payment from income by entering the excludable amount on Form 1040, line 21, as a negative number.

Identity theft is a problem during tax season and the number of incidents continues to increase each year. According to the IRS website, there were 1,492 identity theft investigations for 2013 tax returns.

The two different types of identity theft are employee and fraudulent filing. For employee identity theft someone will acquire someone else's social security number and use it to gain employment. When they receive the W-2, most of the time they won't file because it's not their Social Security number. When the owner of the SSN files their taxes, the IRS will come back and ask for the missing W-2 filed under their SSN.

Fraudulent filing is where someone will have someone else's tax information and multiple returns, for example 40-50 returns, to one bank account. When the owners of the stolen SSNs try to file their taxes, the IRS will come back saying the return was already filed.

"Identity theft is a huge issue for both taxpayers and the IRS. Fraudulent filing is a bigger issue than employee identity theft," said Pardalis. "Hopefully the steps the IRS is taking to decrease the number of incidents by restricting the number of refunds to one bank account to three refunds will help. "Additionally, victims of fraudulent filing and employment identity theft can obtain an Identity Protection PIN from the IRS indicating a particular taxpayer is the rightful filer of the return," she said.

The IRS does have a program for those who have been a victim of identity theft to acquire a personal identification number from the IRS to use when filing for their taxes. The Personal Identification Number is to verify the owner of the SSN is the correct person.

Pardalis has been with the VITA program since 1997 and has recruited and trained the 30 volunteers.

"We are excited to provide tax preparation services to our Peterson complex population and we look forward to seeing everyone," said Pardalis. "We want to help as many people as we can."

For more information and scheduling an appointment at the Tax Center call 556-9248.

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