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Volunteer Income Tax Assistance helps members file returns

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Puzzled by the tax law or which credits and deductions to take? A Volunteer Income Tax Assistance representative may have the answers. The Internal Revenue Service-sponsored VITA Program offers free tax help for military members and their families.

The Peterson AFB Tax Center opens Feb. 2 and appointments can be scheduled beginning Jan. 28 by calling 556-9248. The Tax Center is open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday, closed from noon-1 p.m. for lunch (10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursdays). Free tax preparation services are available to active-duty military members, O-4 and below, stationed at Peterson AFB and Cheyenne Mountain AFS. Tax preparation for retirees is offered on a space available basis for those retirees with less than $100,000 of total income. Appointments from Feb. 2-13 are reserved for junior enlisted members, E-4 and below. A drop-off service is available for single active duty members, from 1-3:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday who have only one source of income, don't own property, and have not sold any stocks or mutual funds.

IRS-trained and certified volunteers can help with special credits you may be eligible for, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Education Credit. In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, VITA reps can also electronically file federal and state returns. VITA representatives are tax knowledgeable and have been certified by the IRS. They are aware of the tax laws and any new changes, and have references available if needed. All tax returns prepared by volunteers are quality reviewed by the site coordinator prior to electronic filing.

The IRS VITA program is not a full-service tax program. While military partners in the IRS VITA program are granted some additional authority to prepare tax returns for military families, the Peterson VITA program must adhere to IRS guidelines for VITA. For example, any private business returns for members with business expenses of more than $10,000 and/or a net loss cannot be prepared. Additionally, VITA representatives can prepare a Schedule E for one former principal residence now being used as a rental, but cannot prepare a return for a taxpayer in the business of renting properties. In addition, any returns with complex Schedule D's for significant buying and selling of stocks and mutual funds (more than nine sale transactions across all 1099-Bs) cannot be prepared.

VITA representatives can also assist members in completing tax returns and claiming refunds for 2011, 2012 and 2013. Generally, if a taxpayer is due a refund for withholding or estimated taxes paid, it must be claimed within three years of the return due date (including extensions) or the taxpayer loses the right to that refund. The same rule applies to a right to claim a tax credit such as the Earned Income Credit. Penalties and interest do not apply in years in which a taxpayer is entitled to a refund.

What to Bring
The items listed are required to prepare your tax return. You must bring them with you to your appointment. This list is not all-inclusive, you may need additional documents.
· Proof of eligibility/identification - picture ID/military ID card

· Social Security cards for you, your spouse, and dependents; or

· Individual Taxpayer Identification Number assignment letter for you, your spouse and family member

· Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN

· Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return

· Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc from all employers

· Interest and dividend, and brokerage account statements from banks and financial institutions (Forms 1099), and the cost basis for any stocks or mutual funds sold

· Mortgage interest statements (Form 1098) if applicable

· SSA/CSA/RRB-1099 if applicable

· Any other 1099s and/or 1098s you may have received

· A copy of last year's federal and state returns if available

· Bank account routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit

· Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider's address and tax identifying number if applicable

· HUD-1, Settlement Statement, if you purchased/refinanced your house in 2014

· New/used vehicle purchase invoice showing purchase price and taxes paid for vehicles purchased in 2014, if applicable

Questions regarding military income tax benefits and requirements can be addressed to your group VITA representatives, or the Peterson Tax Center at 556-9248. The IRS web page at www.IRS.gov also has a wealth of information for military taxpayers including a useful question and answer section. Information contained in this article is valid for the 2014 tax year.

(This article was prepared with information from the IRS web site.)

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