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Tax center opens to provide free services

Col. Shannon T. Miller, Fort Rucker garrison commander, and Capt. Rob Juge, chief of client services for the Fort Rucker Legal Assistance Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, cut the ribbon during the grand opening of the tax center at Bldg. 5700 Jan. 29. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Col. Shannon T. Miller, Fort Rucker garrison commander, and Capt. Rob Juge, chief of client services for the Fort Rucker Legal Assistance Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, cut the ribbon during the grand opening of the tax center at Bldg. 5700 Jan. 29. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: February 4, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Feb. 4, 2016) -- The Fort Rucker Tax Center opened its doors to serve Soldiers, families and retirees throughout what many people find to be one of the most stressful times of the year – tax season.

The tax center, located in Bldg. 5700, Rm. 371F, held its grand opening Jan. 29 to begin offering its free service to help alleviate the stress of preparing taxes, and it’s set its sights to help more than ever before.

“We always talk about taking care of Soldiers, retirees and our families, and this is an excellent opportunity for us to do that,” said Col. Shannon T. Miller, Fort Rucker garrison commander. “We were able to put money back into the Soldiers’ pockets, save them from the frustration of having to do their own taxes and paying for someone else to do the preparation for them. We’re saving our Soldiers potentially hundreds of dollars.”

Miller set the charge to surpass last year’s numbers, which saw the tax center preparing more than 2,000 tax returns and saving Soldiers and families nearly $400,000.

“We expect to surpass that this year, and I have no doubt, especially with the excellent team that the (Fort Rucker Office of the Staff Judge Advocate) has put together, that we’ll be able to do that,” said the colonel. “There is a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge here at the tax center to make sure that our Soldiers, families and retirees are taken care of.”

The tax center is open Mondays-Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through April 15 with service offered by appointment only – including free electronic filing for Soldiers, family members and retirees.

On average, Tod Clayton, volunteer income tax assistant coordinator at the tax center, said that people can save between $75-150 on filing fees, and with the tax center, both federal and state returns are filed at no cost.

People must have a valid military ID in order to take advantage of the services, 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.

Clayton advises people to use a professional service, which includes the tax center, when filing, in order to make sure they get the maximum return possible.

“If they file on their own, they may miss some credits or deductions that they might be entitled to,” said Clayton.  “We’re all trained by the (Internal Revenue Service) in certain aspects that deal with military personnel, so that’s a major 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.

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.

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. The numbers 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.

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

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