- 2014 - February - 27th -

Free tax filing assistance available for veterans

By Max Marbut, Staff Writer

There’s going to be a former IRS agent at City Hall every day for the next several weeks.

No need to worry, though. He’s there to help.

The former agent will help veterans file their taxes through April 15. The program is part of the national “Free File” partnership between the IRS and tax preparation software providers. It’s free of charge to veterans.

Military veterans who live in Duval County and who make $58,000 or less per year can get help filing their return from a program available at the city Military Affairs, Veterans and Disabled Services Division.

It’s estimated there are more than 200,000 veterans living in Duval County and the majority of them qualify for the free tax preparation assistance based on their annual income, said Harrison Conyers, division manager.

Providing a site and a qualified volunteer to assist veterans is part of the city’s mission for residents with the U.S. armed forces on their resumes.

“We want transitioning military and veterans’ experience in City Hall to be positive. They served us, now it’s time for us to serve them,” Conyers said.

In addition to the free tax preparation assistance, employment services also are available for local veterans through a partnership with Incepture Inc., Conyers said.

The third Thursday of each month, Incepture, a member of the Jacksonville Military Veterans Coalition, offers a free career and employment counseling seminar.

Topics include resume preparation, interview skills and translation of military skills to civilian jobs.

Four days each week, representatives of CareerSource Florida (formerly WorkSource) are available at City Hall to help veterans find jobs. The service is a statewide network.

The array of programs offered by the division got a boost in November when the Jaguars Foundation awarded the city a $1 million grant over five years to enhance services for the county’s former military personnel.

Conyers said the funding allowed the city to make the veterans’ waiting room in City Hall more comfortable.

The latest project enabled by the grant is the Jacksonville Military Veterans Community partnerships grant program to support services for veterans provided by local nonprofit organizations.

Conyers said the qualifying and application process for $70,000 in “micro-grants” began last week.

After the organizations and their programs for veterans are evaluated, qualified applicants and programs will be selected by a committee. Grants are expected to range from $5,000-$20,000 and the funds may not be used by the recipients for operational or personnel costs, Conyers said.

The program is an example of a public-private partnership that increases services available without additional funding from the city budget, he said.

For more information about services provided by the city for Duval County’s veteran population, visit coj.net/militaryaffairs.


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