VOLUNTEER TAX HELP
Volunteer tax preparer Lancelot Latouche helps retired Staff Sgt. Thomas and Mary Phillips.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. --It's another Wednesday morning at the Redstone Tax Center, and the phone rings at the front desk.

"Tax Center," answers Neshia Knight, who does the center's scheduling. "Can I help you'
"Can you come in this Friday' I have 10 and 11, 2 and 3."

Since opening for the tax season Jan. 31, the center has already helped many members of the military community by preparing their taxes free of charge. Eligible clients include servicemembers (active duty and Reserve component), military retirees and their family members.

"Business is great," Rachael Yeoman, the paralegal who manages the center, said. "We are booming. We're solidly booked right now."

By the morning of March 2, the center's staff of mostly volunteers had prepared 1,461 federal and state returns. They'd saved the community $187,121 by avoiding tax preparation fees. And the federal income tax refunds totaled $1,258,028.

"And you can see our schedule is booked out so that's not near the end," Yeoman said.

But there are plenty of appointment opportunities for people who call 842-1040. The center, at building 3489 on the corner of Zeus Road and Ajax Road, is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. until the end of tax season.

The staffers from the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate and 18 volunteers are ready to prepare and e-file federal and state tax returns for all eligible clients.

"We're for military and dependents, and (military) retirees and their dependents," Yeoman reminded. "Civilians aren't authorized."

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Andy Young was among the clients March 2.
"It's great," Young said of the center. "I've been doing it here since I retired eight years ago."

Capt. Patrick Holly, chief of legal assistance in the JAG office, serves as the center's officer in charge. "We do almost as much as Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., but they do it with 13 Soldiers and seven civilians," Holly said at the center's opening day.

"We do that with volunteers and about four people on the payroll - an OIC, two NCOs, a civilian paralegal and a summer hire (who was extended). We do a lot. It's not me - it's the volunteers who do all the groundwork."

The 18 volunteers work anywhere from 4 to 40 hours a week, according to Yeoman.

Clients must bring the following to their appointment: all W-2, 1099 and 1098 forms; brokerage statements; Social Security cards for spouse and family members; any documents for deductible expenses; voided check showing bank account number and routing number (used for direct deposit); last year's tax return or other applicable years; dependent care provider federal ID number, name, address, phone number and Social Security number; and if married and filing jointly, bring your spouse or a power of attorney from your spouse.

Page last updated Wed March 9th, 2011 at 11:14