Compton: Volunteers needed to help in tax return program

By George Compton
Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Navy Legal Service Office at Naval Base Ventura County again needs volunteers for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. This program assists Navy and Marine families and retirees in preparing their federal and state income tax returns without charge.

Last year, program volunteers completed 1,918 federal and state tax returns, which yielded their clients more than $1 million in refunds while saving service members about $173,000 in tax preparation fees. This was a significant increase from the previous year, and on behalf of our active duty service members and retirees, I would like to thank the volunteers.

All VITA volunteers receive free training to become a certified Federal and California State tax preparer. To become a volunteer, contact Mr. Gonzales at 982-4548.

Q. I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder while in the Army. What documentation do I need to prove a stressor for a claim for compensation with the VA?

A. Because you were diagnosed in service, you do not have to prove any stressor; it is conceded that you had a stressor.

Q. I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma two years ago. I served in Vietnam, and I filed a disability claim earlier this month. If my claim is approved, what will be the effective date of my disability?

A. The effective date will be the date the claim was filed. When your claim is approved, the VA will pay compensation as of the first day of the following month from the date of claim. It will take months to have your claim approved so the VA will give you a lump sum payment for those months.

I hope you have already enrolled in the VA medical system. Because you have a presumptive condition from Agent Orange, your treatment and any medications for that condition would be at no cost.

Q. I recently retired, and I would like to volunteer to help fellow veterans. Are there opportunities to help? How about the new veterans home?

A. When the California State Veterans Home opens in the spring there will be opportunities there, but right now the Disabled American Vans need drivers to help veterans get to Sepulveda Outpatient Clinic. That clinic is where most of us get specialty care, and many veterans can no longer drive.

The vans operate Monday through Friday with enough volunteer drivers. One van starts in Moorpark, and the other starts in Ventura, and both make numerous stops on the way to Sepulveda. To volunteer as a driver, contact Marie Williams, the DAV transportation coordinator, at 818-895-9408.

Q. Where do I go to get a VA identification card?

A. There is not an identification card. The VA issues a medical card when a veteran enrolls for medical care. You can make an appointment to find out if you are eligible to enroll at the VA clinic on Citrus Grove in Oxnard by calling 485-7060.

Q. My daughter will start college next year and will be eligible for the fee waiver. What will be her income limit for next year?

A. The income limit for the fee waiver is usually established in February of each year so I cannot give you a limit at this time. The current limit is $10,727 in adjusted gross income. Usually the limit has a small increase each year, so the current limit can be used as a pretty safe guide.

Remember there is no waiver on that limit. If a student earned a little more than the limit, he or she should start a traditional IRA to lower the adjusted gross income.

This office will send applications to those students currently using the waiver during the last week of April. You will have plenty of time to have the fee waiver approved.

— George Compton, retired Army colonel, is the veterans service officer for the County of Ventura, Human Services Agency. Send your questions to Veterans Service Office, 1701 Pacific Ave., Suite 110, Oxnard, CA 93033; phone number: 385-6366; fax: 385-6371; or e-mail: [email protected].

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