SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Americans throughout the Pacific region may be thinking more about buying gifts than paying taxes this time of year, but soon income tax season will be in full stride.

At Sasebo Naval Base and other Pacific facilities, officials are seeking individuals in their communities willing to serve as tax preparers for the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA.

“At Navy bases throughout the world, it is run by the Navy Legal Services Office, and right now all we’re trying to do is get the word out that we need volunteers,” said Lt. Mary Thompson, an NLSO attorney in Sasebo.

The VITA program is designed to facilitate tax preparation and electronic tax filing for all servicemembers, Department of Defense civilians and status-of-forces-agreement employees.

Internal Revenue Service representatives will train volunteers at various Pacific bases next month.

The volunteers will prepare tax returns through the tax season, free of charge.

“At Navy bases, this contributes to our overall readiness because sailors do not have to worry about getting their taxes done. We do it for them for free,” Thompson said.

Sasebo is to hold the VITA program training from Jan. 25 until Jan. 28. The IRS requires the volunteers to attend the training session, Thompson said.

In Sasebo and at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, the VITA program offices open for business on Jan. 31, and other bases will do much the same as their volunteers complete the training from IRS representatives, Thompson said.

“This program continues to be a major quality-of-life benefit enjoyed by our military community,” stated Gen. Michael W. Hagee, Marine Corps commandant, in a news report last week.

“Through this program last year, more than 64,000 federal returns were prepared and electronically filed, saving Marines and their families over $9.9 million in tax preparation and filing fees, an average savings of nearly $120 per Marine,” the general stated.

For more information or to volunteer in Sasebo, call DSN 252-3347.

For more information on the Iwakuni VITA program, call DSN 253-4398 or DSN 253-5591.

Those who wish to volunteer at their respective bases should contact their VITA office.

The tax deadline for Americans overseas is June 15.

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