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January 31, 2014

Fort Huachuca opens Tax Center’s doors

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Maranda Flynn
Staff Writer

Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Graves (center), Company D, 2-13th Aviation Regiment, puts his cap on his son, Cayden, 10 months, being held by his mother, Tiffany, while the Family gets help with their tax paperwork Monday at the Fort Huachuca Tax Assistance Center following its grand opening ceremony that day. Tax preparers Amber Barrs and Sgt. Jon Cuellar are among those staffing the facility where eligible filers can get free help with their income tax returns on an appointment-only basis.

As W-2s, 1099s, and other documents begin to arrive in the mail, Fort Huachuca kicked off the 2013 tax season with the grand opening of the Tax Assistance Center, or TAC, Monday, located in Building 22324 on Christy Ave.

Business hours are 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, through April 15. Clients will be seen by appointment only, and it is recommended to call a week in advance.

There are 11 Soldier and Civilian volunteers who are ready to prepare state and federal tax returns for those in the Fort Huachuca community. Each volunteer has attended a month-long training session and has been certified with the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Tax Assistance Program. Tax preparers are trained to address military- and international-specific tax issues.

Services provided at the tax center are free for eligible clients and can save a minimum of $250 in tax preparation fees. Eligible clients include anyone who has a military identification card.

“Last year, we saved our clients close to $300,000 in tax preparation fees and we got them over $3 million in returns,” said Amber Barss, Fort Huachuca TAC operations officer. “We assisted over 1,300 people last year and we are hoping to break that this year. Every year has been more successful than the last.”

For those who are unable to file their taxes due to a deployment, a power of attorney will be required for the filer. This can be obtained at the Fort Huachuca Staff Judge Advocate Office, or JAG, Building 51102, on Hatfield.

This tax season will be very similar to those in the past with the only real change being the date that electronic filing can begin, due to the 2013 government sequestration.

“The filing date for e-filing was pushed back to Jan. 31,” Barss said. “So although we are open right now, we can’t actually e-file anything until then. The due date for the tax season is still April 15.”

Once an appointment is made, gather the required paperwork and information to bring with you. Along with tax documents, remember to bring your military ID card, the Social Security card of each dependent listed on the return, a December 2013 Leave and Earnings Statement and bank account information.

Barss explained that for more complicated returns, it is best to call and verify the necessary documents. Those who arrive for their appointment without all documents will have to reschedule.

Even though the tax season ends April 15, Barss explained that legal services are still available after that date for eligible clients. “For people who come home from deployment, or just have questions about their taxes, they can come and see me in the JAG office,” Barss said.

The TAC is a child-friendly environment, equipped with toys and a television to keep children entertained while parents file taxes.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the Tax Assistance Center at 533.1040.




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