Local

February 1, 2013

FH Tax Assistance Center opens its doors

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Joan Vasey
Scout Editor

From left, Command Sgt. Maj. Roger Daigle. garrison command sergeant major; Col. Dan McFarland, Fort Huachuca garrison commander; and Capt. Jarom Ricks cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony of the tax center located here on Fort Huachuca. The tax center is open to active duty and retired military and their Families.

The Fort Huachuca Tax Assistance Center, or TAC, grand opening took place at Building 22324, Christy Avenue on Monday. Col. Timothy Cody, Staff Judge Advocate, explained the services the TAC will provide during 2013. Next, Col. Dan McFarland, Fort Huachuca garrison commander, cut the ribbon to officially open the facility and presented an Army Achievement Medal to Capt. Steven Dietrich, TAC officer-in-charge 2012, for gaining a Soldier $100,000 from the Internal Revenue Service last year. (See related article above.)

The TAC will operate for all eligible users from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. weekdays on an appointment-basis. Every Thursday the TAC will accept appointments from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. The TAC is closed for lunch, weekdays, from noon – 1 p.m.

Nearer to tax time, the center is open on Saturdays. On March 30 and April 6 and 13, the TAC will accept appointments from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

There is a change from last year when the TAC was initially open for Soldiers E4 and below with services open to everyone a few weeks later.

This year, TAC personnel conducted a Soldier Outreach Program, preparing Soldier student packets and distributing them to Soldiers at their units in advance. The TAC staff then collected the paperwork, brought it to the TAC for processing, then returned it to the Soldiers, explained Capt. Jarom Ricks, 2013 TAC officer-in-charge.

“We have already met with seven AIT [advanced individual training] companies to brief them on the student outreach program. The Outreach program allows us to gather all the tax information we need to prepare AIT soldiers’ returns without interrupting their training. Last year we prepared returns for 200 AIT students. This year we anticipate to prepare that many in our first month because we have already been meeting with the companies.

“If our AIT students utilize the Outreach program as projected, this year we will prepare and file well over 3,000 returns,” Ricks added.

This change means everyone who is eligible can use the center, by appointment, during operating hours.

Last year, TAC personnel saved clients $286,000 in tax preparation fees and garnered customers $2.5 million in tax returns. The office served 1,288 clients in-house and filed 2,400 income tax return clams for both federal and state taxes.

The TAC is staffed by volunteers who receive formal training from the IRS.

Volunteer tax return preparers are part of the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Tax Assistance Program. Fort Huachuca participates in the VITA program and provides free tax advice, tax preparation, return filing and other tax assistance to military members, their Families and retirees.

Volunteer assistors at military-based VITA sites are trained to address military-specific tax issues. Volunteers are trained and certified by the IRS. About 10 Soldiers and other volunteers are currently being trained to help members of the Fort Huachuca community file income taxes for free.

“Our tax preparers have trained to the highest levels of IRS certification and have participated in a realistic situational training exercise,” Ricks said.
To receive assistance, clients must bring the following items to the TAC for their appointment:

  • Government ID
  • Social Security card
  • 2011 W-2 tax form(s)
  • December 2011 end-of-month Leave and Earning Statement
  • Voided checks or bank account information, such as routing number and account number.

Clients should also bring:

  • A copy of their 2010 tax return
  • Other 2011 tax documentation, such as 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, SSA-1099, 1099-MISC, 1099-R and other forms, if applicable
  • Documentation pertaining to filing status, such as divorce decrees, dependent tax claims, alimony and other documentation pertinent to determining filing status, if applicable
  • Scholarship receipt information, tuition fees/debts and student loan information, if applicable
  • If planning to itemize deductions, all applicable receipts and records

Those who arrive for scheduled appointments without all documents will have to reschedule their appointments.

Those with a lost or stolen social security card can request another by filling out the request form at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/online/ss-5.pdf.

Taxpayers should be wary of commercial tax preparers that offer free 1040EZ tax preparation. Sometimes taxpayers don’t qualify for a free return, and there is a charge because some state returns are not free.

Tax preparers at the Fort Huachuca TAC will prepare Arizona and out-of-state tax returns, but cannot do complex out-of-state tax returns. Tax preparers cannot do income taxes returns for someone who had more than 20 stock or bond trades during 2012.

The Tax Center cannot process income tax returns for those with home business income. However, there is an exception for family child-care providers; assistance is available on their income tax returns. Call the TAC in advance to determine if your return can be done.

Those who wish to have their return done at the Fort Huachuca TAC should call one week in advance to schedule this service. To make an appointment or for more information about the tax center, call 533.1040.




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