Sounds fascinating huh?
I know. And yes, I too will be overjoyed when I get all of the practical and logistical blogging behind me so I can focus on fun and exciting Italy!!!
But first things first.
So here’s the deal. When you arrive at Aviano, you’ll have to go through a program known as Right Start, where you will be given about a million pieces of paper and your brain will be on information overload.
To make it worse, most of what you will hear in Right Start will literally have nothing to do with you. Because you are a civilian and it’s geared towards the active duty member and their families. So yes, you will be just like me…sitting in the chair and wondering why you are even there at all.
Alas, it’s mandatory. Which means that unless you died on arrival, your butt will be in that chair.
As a civilian, you will have to go to the comptroller’s desk, get the paperwork packet, and fill it out yourself (the military hand their receipts/orders/itinerary/whatever in at Right Start and it all gets done for them). If you are lucky–and I was–there will be an Airman at the comptrollers desk who will take time to help you. On one sheet, you’ll list your itinerary:
For example, mine looked like this:
And if you stayed in lodging at your old base, you’ll list that too.
And I didn’t know this before, but the only receipt you’ll need is the one for your lodging. If you did stay at a hotel off base, you’d better have a non-accommodation letter from the hotel on base that authorized you to stay off base. If you stayed at a friend’s house, you don’t get reimbursed for that. Sorry.
I’m sure you know by now that the DoD purse strings have tightened, and you can’t just do things the way you may have in the past. Now, you have to have approval/permission for everything.
The good news is–you can claim and get reimbursed for things like toll roads, taxi fare, excess luggage, etc., and if it’s under $75 you don’t need a receipt for it. Now having just said that, we all know how the rules can change, so just make sure that’s still the law when you get ready to file your voucher.
I also used my GTC (government travel card) to pay for several meals, and I included that on the voucher to be paid back onto the credit card. And I didn’t need receipts for those meals–just a total of what I owed on the GTC.
*This is different that GPC which is the government purchase card. (If you did have a GPC, you should not be taking it with you to Italy)
**And for God’s sake, be SURE that your GTC isn’t about to expire before you travel!!! It would really suck for you not to have access to your card at the one point in your life when you really need it!
In addition to that first sheet, you’ll also fill out a W-4. And you’ll need a copy of those orders again.
Then comes the fun part. Included in your packet is RITA and WTA paperwork (I have no idea what those letters mean, so don’t ask). I’m no tax professional so this is a seriously basic explanation. The way I understand it is that the government gives you money to relocate, etc. and that money has to be taxed at some point. So you have the option of having the money taxed during the year you move (in my case 2015) or taxed the following year. I opted to have mine taxed in 2015. Mostly because this is way too complicated and I’m sure I’ll have other things to worry about a year from now.
On a related annoying in-processing note, your sponsor should take you to see the civilian personnel office so they can make sure you are in ATAAPS and can get paid on time. While you are there, they will also give you your TQSA (temporary quarters subsistence allowance) paperwork (for the military this is their TLA–temporary lodging allowance) and brief you on your housing allowances/entitlements. (LQA–living quarters allowance for us and OHA–overseas housing allowance for the military). Try to make sure you use the acronyms for civilians. It can get confusing otherwise. It’s confusing now, but you know what I mean.
Enjoy your Sunday!