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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Although holiday season reminders are everywhere, a bulletin announcing the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, posted by the Navy Legal Services Office is a Scrooge-like reminder that tax season is near.

VITA, the free service offered for income tax preparation and electronic filing is a welcome gift that’s hard to turn down.

To get ready, NLSO is seeking tax preparers for the 2006 VITA program, which provides tax preparation and filing for servicemembers, Department of Defense civilians and status-of-forces-agreement employees. The tax filing deadline for Americans overseas is June 15.

The program, like others run at Navy bases worldwide, operates using volunteers trained by visiting Internal Revenue Service personnel. The U.S. Air Force, Army and Marine Corps facilities in Japan also operate similar programs.

Sasebo’s training this year runs Jan. 23-27. So far, 11 of 25 training slots have been filled, said Lt. Albert Cho, VITA coordinator in Sasebo.

“What we’re looking for is volunteers who have a lot of time they can devote to the program and who are willing to stick with it,” he said.

Cho said volunteer tax preparers should have good people skills, patience and feel comfortable using computers.

Sasebo’s VITA program offers tax assistance to thousands, including personnel from the shore command, tenant commands and forward-deployed ships.

“One thing different we’ve done this year is encourage a satellite office for the ships because their schedules at sea can vary,” Cho said. “So far, we have arranged this on the USS Essex, and the other ships could funnel personnel filing income taxes through the Essex.

“We’re going to install the actual tax preparation software on computers used by the Essex preparers,” he added. “By using this satellite system, we can save manpower because sailors won’t need to take time off for appointments at our offices to file taxes.”

For people needing VITA program assistance, the office in Building 47 opens in early February, Cho said. Office hours will be 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Fridays.

Call DSN 252-3347 for more information.

Stars and Stripes reporter Jennifer Svan contributed to this report.

Tax assistance programs in Japan

At other mainland Japan bases, IRS training for volunteer tax preparers, office openings, hours and telephone numbers are as follows:

Naval Air Facility Atsugi: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program training is planned Jan. 3 through Jan. 13, to be held at Yokosuka Naval Base. Atsugi’s VA office opens on a date and at a location to be determined in late January, said base spokesman Brian K. Naranjo. Call DSN 264-4444 for more information.

Yokosuka Naval Base: Training for Yokosuka’s VITA will also take place Jan. 3 through Jan. 13. The office, in Building B39A, will open by Jan. 24 and maintain hours from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 9 a.m. until noon on Saturdays. Call DSN 243-6905 for more information.

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni: VITA training is set for Jan. 23 through Jan. 27, according to a program spokesman. The office opens for tax assistance from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, and Saturdays from 8:30 to noon, starting Feb. 1 until June 15. The office is in Building 608 next to the Provost Marshal’s Office. Call 253-5592 for more information.

Misawa Air Base: The Unit Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is used at Misawa, according to Staff Sgt. Angela Eggman, base spokeswoman. The program is also identical to VITA. Volunteers will train Jan. 24 through Jan. 27, and participants must volunteer one day a week from February to May. The UVITA office is in Building 514 and opens in February on a date to be announced, she said. Office hours will be 8 a.m. through 3 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. Call the office at DSN 226-2513 or 226-3948 for more information.

Yokota Air Base: Yokota’s UVITA training will be held Jan. 17 through Jan. 20. The office, in Building 3002, will be open the first week of February through July. Office hours will be announced in January. Call DSN 225-8069 before the tax center opens and 225-4927 thereafter for more information.

Camp Zama: Volunteers will train for Zama’s UVITA program at Yokota Jan. 17 through Jan. 20, said Zama spokeswoman Maj. Martha Brooks. Zama’s program opens for business Feb. 1 at a location to be announced. Office hours will be 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Call DSN 263-3400 for more information.

—Stars and Stripes

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