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February 28, 09

NEWS / Free Tax Assistance for Members of the Military


If you or your spouse are a member of the military, you may be eligible to receive free tax return preparation assistance. The U.S. Armed Forces participates in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and provides free tax advice, tax preparation, return filing and other tax assistance to military members and their families.

The Armed Forces Tax Council oversees the operation of the military tax programs worldwide, conducting outreach with the IRS to military personnel and their families. The AFTC consists of tax program coordinators for the Marine Corps, Air Force, Army, Navy and Coast Guard.

Volunteer assistors at Military-based VITA sites are trained to address military-specific tax issues, such as combat zone tax benefits and the new Earned Income Tax Credit guidelines.

To receive this free assistance, you should bring the following records to your military VITA site:

* Valid photo identification
* Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents or a social security number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration
* Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents
* Current yearís tax package, if you received one
* Wage and earning statement(s) -- Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R
* Interest and dividend statements (Forms 1099)
* A copy of last yearís federal and state tax returns, if available
* Checkbook (to get routing number and account number for direct deposit)
* Total amount paid for day care and day care providerís identifying number
* Other relevant information about income and expenses

If your filing status is Married Filing Jointly and you wish to file your tax return electronically, both you and your spouse should be present to sign the required forms. If it isnít possible for both to be present, a valid power of attorney that allows tax preparation can be used to sign and file the return.

There is a special exception to using a power of attorney for spouses in combat zones that permits the filing spouse to e-file a joint return with only a written statement setting forth that the other spouse is in a combat zone and is unable to sign.

For more information, review IRS Publication 3, Armed Forcesí Tax Guide, available on the IRS Web site at IRS.gov or order a free copy by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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