News: VITA offers free tax services to service members
Story by Cpl. Jovane Holland
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program will provide service members with free tax advice and preparation beginning Jan. 17 at several locations throughout Camp Pendleton.
The main VITA office is located on Mainside at Building 1687, with satellite offices available at the Abby Reinke and San Onofre Community Centers.
The VITA program, a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service and the military, provides free, individual income tax preparation for all military personnel and dependents eligible for legal assistance.
“The VITA program is important because it is free and saves service members money and time,” said Sgt. Alfredo Castillomonte, noncommissioned officer in charge for VITA here. “We are open all year long, but this is the busiest time of the year for us, which shows how beneficial this service is to Marines, sailors and their families.”
The program’s services are offered to active duty, reservists, retirees and their dependents for both federal and state income taxes until April 18.
All 29 active-duty VITA employees are qualified to prepare beginning, intermediate and military tax returns.
In addition to federal and state returns, VITA also assists in itemization, rental property, social security and investment income, said Castillomonte.
For many service members, especially the junior enlisted and those who were recently stationed on Pendleton, VITA’s services takes the guesswork and unnecessary fees out of tax time.
“Staying on base to get my taxes done, especially since it’s free, is much better than utilizing expensive services off base,” said Lance Cpl. Ophelia Jones, a postal clerk with Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. “Having a tax center open to service members and their families is very beneficial, no matter what your rank.”
Service members filing taxes through VITA must bring their tax information, social security cards, photo identification, W-2 wage and tax statements, bank account with routing numbers, power of attorney forms and all other income information.
Service members do not have to make an appointment, as assistance is provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The assistance center located on Mainside is scheduled to operate Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday,
8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Satellite offices located at the Abbey Reinke and San Onofre community centers are scheduled to operate Tuesday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information on VITA, contact the Mainside office at 760-763-251 or log onto www.pendelton.usmc.mil/base/legalassistance/vita/vita.asp.