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Tax time: Center set to open soon

Gail Evelyn, tax preparer at the Fort Rucker Tax Center, helps CW2 Ralph Hernandez and his wife, Brittany, with their tax return at the Fort Rucker Tax Center in 2014. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Gail Evelyn, tax preparer at the Fort Rucker Tax Center, helps CW2 Ralph Hernandez and his wife, Brittany, with their tax return at the Fort Rucker Tax Center in 2014. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: January 19, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Jan. 19, 2016) -- As one of life’s certainties, with every new year comes a new tax season and, for many, added stress, but the Fort Rucker Tax Center will soon be available to help alleviate that stress for many on the installation.

The tax center, located in Bldg. 5700, Rm. 371F, will open its doors during a grand opening Jan. 29 at 10 a.m., and free help and electronic filing will be available to military, family members and retirees Mondays-Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through April 15.

Tod Clayton, volunteer income tax assistant coordinator at the tax center, said the center, which offers its free service by appointment only, is designed to make people’s lives a little easier by saving them a little money, and people can call to start making appointments as early as Jan. 25.

People must have a valid military ID in order to take advantage of the services provided at the tax center, and Soldiers on Reserve status must be on Title-10 orders and bring their call-to-active duty orders in order to use the center.

“This is a free service and people need to take advantage of it,” said Clayton. “The average return typically costs between $75-150 depending on the forms that they use. It can get costly, and they don’t tell you that it costs extra to do the state return. These days, everybody needs help saving a little money.”

Last year, more than 1,600 returns were filed through the tax center, and both federal and state returns can be handled at the tax center at no charge, added the tax coordinator.

“People should use a professional when filing taxes because they may miss some credits or deductions that they might be entitled to,” said Clayton.  “The service here is free and we’re all trained by the (Internal Revenue Service) in certain aspects that deal with military personnel, so that’s another advantage that people will have.”

The tax center also offers a drop-off tax service for single Soldiers. Single Soldiers can come in and drop off their 2015 income tax paperwork and return in 48 hours to go over their complete return with a tax representative, said Clayton. Soldiers must return between the hours of 9-11 a.m. Mondays-Fridays for their returns.

“We don’t need a full one-hour appointment to do most single Soldiers’ tax returns, so this frees up a lot of time for us to serve as many people as we can,” he said.

Single Soldiers who wish to utilize the drop-off service must have a simple return with no more than two W-2 forms. For more information on drop-off services, call 255-2937 or 255-2938.

When visiting the tax center, people should remember to bring all tax forms, including all valid military ID cards; Social Security cards; all W-2s and wage and earning statements; 1099-R for pensions and retirements; 1098 for interest statements regarding tuitions, student loans, mortgages, etc.; a copy of the previous year’s return if available; power of attorney papers if available; 1099-G forms for gambling winnings, unemployment compensations, etc.; and 1099-MISC for payments received for non-employment compensation.

“Some people have gambling winnings or unemployment (compensation) that they’ve received throughout the year and those are things that need to be filed, and sometimes people don’t realize that,” said the tax coordinator. “If they’re in doubt about something, just bring it to us and ask questions.”

People should also bring their bank routing numbers as well as their account numbers if they wish to have their returns deposited directly into their bank accounts, which can be found on a check tied to the specific account they wish to use.

Although the tax center is an invaluable resource to people on the installation, the facility is limited in the services it can provide. The center can’t provide services for businesses or for those with more than one rental property, but most simple tax returns shouldn’t be a problem, said Clayton.

“Every tax situation is different and we look at each individual tax situation separately,” he said. “If people feel they can do it themselves, that’s fine, but there is no harm in coming by and having us take a look, especially since it’s free.”

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 255-2937 or 255-2938.

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