There are other benefits of VITA as well. According to the National Society of Accountants, using this free service will save Sailors an average of $152 for returns without itemized deduction, and $273 on returns with itemized deductions. In fact, in tax year 2015, VITA volunteers with the program saved service members and dependents an estimated $500,000 in tax preparation fees, and provided more than $14 million in expedited tax refunds.
"First of all it's free, so you can save a few hundred dollars just by coming to a self-service VITA office," said Marin. "And it educates you on how to prepare your taxes on your own. So when your family and friends want to know how to do it, they can ask you and next year you can have your information saved in the software and you know how to do it yourself."
It will also give Sailors new perspectives when it comes to their own assets, which can improve personal financial management and goals.
"It actually lets you see it from the preparer's way of doing it," said Ventura. "Now you get a more in-depth look at your own finances."
This can allow taxpayers to optimize their future returns.
"Finances for me are kind of a big thing," said Ventura. "Knowing I helped someone financially brightens up my day."
Tax preparers advise Sailors bring the following items to their appointments:
* Valid identification for Taxpayer/s
* Social Security Numbers (including spouse and children)
* Child care provider tax I.D. or Social Security Number and Address
* 2015 Adjusted Gross Income from last year's tax return (if you have a copy, regional legal services office VITA volunteers can show you where this amount is)
* IRS E-filing PIN (you can get one at www.irs.gov/individuals/electronic-filing-pin-request
) or call IRS at 866-704-7388
* Income data (W-2s)
* All end-year tax documents (1099s)
* Student loan payment information
* Receipts for child care payment
* Receipts for educational expenses
Run by the Internal Revenue Service, VITA is available to Sailors through the Naval Legal Service Command. Sailors can find their nearest VITA location via Military OneSource. They also have the option of doing their taxes online at www.militaryonesource.mil/financial-and-legal/taxes
. For assistance, call 800-342-9647.