30 January 2015
Tax Assistance Program
Free Income Tax Assistance for Military Personnel and Families
By Brett C. Conyers, Legal Assistance Attorney

The Fort Detrick Tax Center opens Jan. 26 to assist active and retired members of the armed forces-including mobilized reservists-and their families with filing both federal and state income tax returns.

Taxpayers eligible to use the center must bring a completed questionnaire/intake form, a military identification card and a social security card (or photocopy) for each person named on the return. The intake form is available by clicking on the calculator icon link on the Fort Detrick homepage, www.detrick.army.mil. Additional documents you will need to bring to make your visit a one-stop success may be found by clicking the “what to bring” tab.

The Fort Detrick Tax Center is both a personal readiness and quality-of-life program that operates with the support of unit commanders. This year, commanders have detailed seven Soldiers to staff the center, five of which will serve on a full-time basis, along with five civilian volunteers.

If you have not visited a military tax center before there are some good reasons to do so this season.

First, the services are free; we estimate we saved our clients a total of $250,000 in commercial fees in 2014.

Second, refunds are deposited on average within 7-10 days after the return is electronically transmitted.

Third, the Fort Detrick Tax Center is controlled by the IRS as a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site and managed by the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate. Each preparer has received 40 hours of instruction and passed a rigorous IRS-required certification test. The training and certification is limited to tax issues encountered by taxpayers with low to moderate income as well as those encountered by taxpayers in our military community. For instance, each preparer is certified to file a Schedule E so you may report rental income received for a home rented because you could not sell after receiving change-of-station orders. Should you need assistance with a matter that exceeds the expertise of the preparers at the center, you will be referred to an attorney in the Legal Assistance office.

However, even the legal assistance attorneys are prohibited from preparing a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, because Army policy prohibits assistance with any matter related to a personal business or enterprise, to include filing a tax return. So, if you own a business and earn money as sole proprietor or independent contractor, the Fort Detrick Tax Center cannot assist you. However, the center may prepare a Schedule C-EZ for a family child care provider enrolled under the Child and Youth Services Program.

Walk-ins appointments are accepted. The best way to receive assistance is to call (301) 619-1040 and make an appointment. If you have any questions, contact the Legal Assistance Office at (301) 619-2221.

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