The entrance to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Marine Corps photo

Free, in-person tax preparation services are available now at San Diego County bases for active-duty members, retirees and dependents.

“It’s a wonderful program, because it’s us taking care of us,” said Army Lt. Col. David Dulaney, executive director of the Armed Forces Tax Council.

The Defense Department and the IRS are working together and providing the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, services at U.S. military installations throughout the world.

VITA services are offered here:

  • Navy Region Southwest: Bldg. 56, Suite 9. 32nd Street. (619-556-2211)
  • MCAS Miramar: Bldg. 6275, Bauer Road. (858-577-1040)
  • Camp Pendleton: 16 Area, Bldg. 1687 (760-763-2518)
  • And Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego: 3700 Chosin Ave., Bldg. 12 (619-525-8643)

Taxes for military members are complicated, Dulaney said, noting frequent moves and deployments and the fact that tax laws change every year.

The VITA preparers receive extensive training through the Defense Department and the IRS on the situations faced in the military community, such as combat zone tax benefits, extensions to file and pay, and special rules for the earned income tax credit, he said.

“I really encourage members to go into the VITA centers within the Department of Defense, because we understand their tax situation better than what the commercial sector would,” Dulaney said.

Many of the preparers are junior uniformed personnel, he said, adding their sole focus is to help the service member.

“We want to work with taxpayers to make sure they get every deduction and every credit that they are eligible for, so we can reduce their tax liability,” he said, “because no taxpayer should have to pay more than what they owe to the government for their taxes.”

VITA preparers can file federal and state returns. Each return is reviewed by an expert overseer before being submitted, Dulaney said.

Further, the preparers can review tax returns that were done elsewhere, and are able to examine returns from previous years and file amendments, he said.

Most of all, the VITA services save members, retirees and their families hard-earned money, he said.

“You don’t have to pay a dime to get this,” he said. “You just have to bring in your tax documents and let the preparers prepare your tax return for you.”

The deadline to file this year is April 17, because the traditional tax-filing deadline of April 15 falls on a Sunday and April 16 is the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia.

Military members serving outside the United States get an automatic two-month extension, giving them until June 15 to file, Dulaney explained. Taxpayers can request further extensions, up to Oct. 15, to file.