USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program is helping USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Sailors with free tax advice and income tax preparation during the current surge deployment.
According to Chief Electronics Technician (SW/AW) Mary Benjamin, Ronald Reagan's VITA coordinator, the program officially began Feb. 1 and is designed to help Sailors with their taxes so they can focus on the mission requirements for the current surge deployment.
"They will have the peace of mind knowing that even [though] they are deployed, they still can file their income tax returns on time," said Benjamin.
VITA will help Ronald Reagan Sailors claim their refund or pay back debts owed to the Internal Revenue Service, Benjamin added.
"A Sailor may not know that they are entitled to certain deductions or credits that would reduce their tax or increase their refund," she said.
Convenience is another reason why Sailors should consider the VITA program according to Benjamin.
"They don't have to wait until we go back to homeport to have their taxes done," she said. "VITA will electronically file the returns the same day it's prepared, and Sailors can expect to get their refunds within two weeks."
Ronald Reagan's VITA program has approximately 30 volunteers available to assist any Sailor who is looking for tax advice and help filling out their returns.
According to Benjamin, the VITA program assisted more than 2,000 Ronald Reagan Sailors last year with their taxes while the ship was on its maiden deployment in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Ronald Reagan Sailors have been eager to sign up for the program this year.
"It's a great idea," said Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Leomar Llanda. "We are already out to sea, so you don't have to wait until you get back. I can set it up right here."
With the short-notice surge deployment, the VITA volunteers are helping many Sailors who had previously planned on doing their own taxes while in homeport.
"This is a great program, especially for Sailors who get unexpected underway periods," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Terence Scanlan. "You can do it yourself, and it helps a lot. It's less worries for you when you are out to sea."
Ronald Reagan was commissioned in July 2003, making it the ninth and newest Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named for the 40th U.S. president; its motto, "Peace through Strength," was a recurrent theme during the Reagan presidency. The ship departed San Diego Jan. 27 on a surge deployment to support operations in the Western Pacific.
For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.