03 February 2016

Free Income Tax Assistance Available to Military Personnel and Their Families
Free Income Tax Assistance Available to Military Personnel and Their Families
Brett C. Conyers, Office of the Staff Judge Advocate
The Fort Detrick Tax Center opens at 1 p.m. on Jan. 25 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.

Eligible taxpayers must bring a completed questionnaire/in-take form, a military identification card and a social security card (or photocopy) for each person named on the return. You will find this in-take form on our webpage: http://www.detrick.army.mil/taxAssistance/index.cfm. Additional documents to bring to make your visit a one-stop success may be found by clicking the “Documents Needed for Tax Assistance” pdf.

The 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 Tax Center. These Soldiers will be joined by a cadre of four civilian volunteers.

If you have not visited a military tax center before, here are some reasons to do so this season. First, services are free. We estimate we saved our Tax Center clients a total of $250,000 in commercial fees in 2015. Secondly, refunds are deposited on an average range of 7-10 days after the return is electronically submitted. Next, you will receive quality assistance. The 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 federal tax law and software instruction and passed a rigorous three-part 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 rent received for a home owned at a previous location that has not sold since you received change-of-station orders. Should you need assistance with a subject that exceeds the expertise of the preparers in the Tax Center, you will be referred to the attorney in the Legal Assistance Office.

However, even the legal assistance attorney is prohibited, by regulation, 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. This includes help filing a tax return. So, if you earn money as a sole proprietor or independent contractor, the Tax Center cannot assist you. There is one exception. Tax Center personnel may prepare a Schedule C-EZ for a family child care provider enrolled under the Child and Youth Services Program.

While walk-in appointments are accepted, the best way to ensure you receive one-stop assistance is to call (301) 619-1040 and make an appointment. If you have any questions, you may always contact the Legal Assistance Office at (301) 619-2221.
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