SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (Feb. 9, 2010) - The commanding general of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, Major General Michael J. Terry cut the ribbon, officially opening the Schofield Barracks tax center for business Jan. 26 here.

Terry said the tax center provides a valuable asset to Soldiers, families, and retirees and noted that the success of last year\'s tax center personnel attracted four thousand of customers and saved more than a million dollars in tax preparation costs, providing $5.7 million dollars in returns.

"This is going to be an even bigger year than last year for you all," Terry said to the tax center personnel. "Soldiers really are going to get more for their taxes because of the work you all will provide them here."

Terry thanked everyone for helping make the tax center operational, including the director, Monica Ojeda, who interviewed many of the Soldiers selected for service at the center.

"The season has just started but it's going great," Ojeda said. "We unofficially started servicing customers E-4 and below January 20. We opened our doors for them early because we wanted to give the junior enlisted an opportunity to get their money first."

Since opening their doors, the tax center has serviced more than 1000 individuals, ranging from the simple first-time tax filers to the challenging individual with many claims on their taxes, such as home mortgages.

"The official tax season for us is from January 20 through April 15," Ojeda said. "We want to service as many customers as possible but those with extensions can come in throughout the year during their extension window to file their taxes."

To help with the workload, 14 Soldiers are handling the taxes in two shifts to lower the wait time for customers.

"It's pretty nice working here," said Sgt. Joshua Peterson, U.S. Army Pacific Command. "Although the waits can be a bit long, we do what we can to speed it up and treat each customer like the first one who entered that day. Most people don't even understand taxes that much so we break it down for them so they leave with a bit more knowledge than when they entered."

All customers are advised to bring along the following documents to the tax centers at Schofield and Shafter to speed up the process:

Aca,!Ac W2 for all wages received
Aca,!Ac State income Tax Return (prior year)
Aca,!Ac Military ID (self and spouse)
Aca,!Ac Property Tax Reciepts Aca,!Ac Receipts for charitable contributions
Aca,!Ac Social security card
Aca,!Ac Home Mortgage Interest Statements
Aca,!Ac Power of Attorney (if necessary)
Aca,!Ac Prior Year Tax return
Aca,!Ac Proof of Education Expenses
Aca,!Ac Educator Expenses
Aca,!Ac Interest Income Statement
Aca,!Ac IRA/SA contributions statement
Aca,!Ac Statements reflecting gains/losses
Aca,!Ac Stimulus payment statement
Aca,!Ac Student Loan Interest Statement
Aca,!Ac Divorce Decree (if applicable)

Since the start of this year's tax season, Soldiers have already saved a combined total of $350 thousand in tax preparation costs, and received $2 million back in tax refunds within the first three weeks.

Although Soldiers can go anywhere to file their taxes, Ojeda has three pieces of advice for anyone considering that option.

"First off our service is free," She said. "Two, its convienent because it's right on post, and three, because the people who prepare your taxes are military, we understand your issues versus those on the economy."

Additionally, Soldiers are advised to look out for the following warning signs if considering an off-post tax center:
Aca,!Ac Phony refund emails
Aca,!Ac Tax rebate scams
Aca,!Ac Fake audit information

Soldiers are encouraged to use the Army tax centers at Schofield and Fort Shafter to prevent any pitfalls or issues that could potentially arise from off-post tax centers. For more assistance on taxes contact Monica Ojeda at the Schofield tax center at 655-1040.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16