All Volunteer VITA Program A Success for 2011 Tax Season

More than 7,000 electronic federal and state tax returns throughout the Pacific Northwest were filed due to the dedication of 80 devoted volunteers who donated a total of 19,345 hours to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) over a 6-month time span.

VITA, run by Naval Legal Service Office Northwest, helped obtain more than 12 million dollars in federal tax refunds for service members, retirees, and their dependents, saving them a total of $852,478 in tax preparation fees. NLSO Northwest’s five VITA offices stretched across the Puget Sound from Bremerton to Whidbey Island, in five tax sites.

All volunteers were trained in an Internal Revenue Service course in tax law and then tested for a specific certification level. Most of the volunteers tested at Advanced Level – the highest you can earn in the VITA program. All told, VITA helped obtain more than 12 million dollars in federal tax refunds for service members, retirees, and their dependents, saving them a total of $852,478 in tax preparation fees.

Lieutenant Maggie Villagran, Tax Officer for NLSO NW, attributes the accomplishments of the VITA program for tax year 2011 as the “direct result of the time, energy and commitment of our active-duty servicemembers and civilian volunteers.” LT Villagran said the volunteers consistently stayed focus on the goal of tax preparation to assist military families, making sure they had one less thing to worry about.

The VITA sites located throughout Navy Region Northwest are currently closed; however, tax preparation services are still available year-round through our Army and Air Force friends at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord base for any person with an active-duty military ID card. They are open Monday thru Friday from 0900-1700 at their Lewis office, (206) 967.1040 or at their McChord office, (206) 982.6857.

If you would like to volunteer at next year’s VITA program, classes will begin in December 2011, with a week-long training session to be conducted by an IRS expert (sites and times are to be determined at a later date).

Volunteers are needed as tax preparers, translators, greeters/screeners, and site coordinators. To be a volunteer, you will complete an Internal Revenue Service training course and then test for a certification level. Once certified, volunteers are asked to donate a few shifts per week at one of our five respective tax locations.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact the Naval Legal Service Office at 360.396.6003 or email them at vita.northwest@gmail.com for more information.

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About rlsonw

Navy JAG Corps
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