Tax Center provides free return preparation
Sarah Apodaca, volunteer tax assistant at the Fort Rucker Tax Center, discusses a federal return with a client Feb. 6 shortly after the center opened for business to provide free tax advice, information, filing and e-filing services to active duty military, Family members and retirees.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Feb. 9, 2012) -- "The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax," said Albert Einstein, according the Internal Revenue Service's website that lists famous quotations on one of life's two certainties.

But many in the Fort Rucker community can rest easier knowing that help, and free help at that, is available from volunteers trained and certified in understanding the complex world of income tax at the Tax Center that opened Feb. 6 in Bldg. 5700, Rm. 371F, according to Tod Clayton, Fort Rucker's tax coordinator.

Access to that free help is as easy to get as tapping out a few numbers on a telephone and making an appointment, and returns are expected to be back in people's bank accounts in as little as seven to 10 working days, Clayton said.

The Tax Center is open weekdays, except for federal holidays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. No walk-ins are taken, but people can call 255-2937 for an appointment.

The Tax Center offers its full advisement, preparation and filing, including e-filing, services to active duty military, Family members and retirees for their federal and state returns. While volunteers are trained and certified for Alabama, they can help with other state taxes, the tax coordinator said.

The only limitations are people are limited to one rental property on their returns, only one state per person for e-filing with additional ones mailed and no returns for personal businesses are serviced, Clayton added.

"If you have a business, you'll need to go to a certified public accountant," he said. "And for people with more than one rental property, that's considered a business."

When people call for an appointment, they are welcome to discuss what they will need to bring, because preparation is key to getting everything filed with just one appointment, Clayton added.

"The general idea is one appointment, but we can take people back if we need to," he said. "We usually work in times where we can see people again if they forget something or if research for a particular problem is required."

People also get copies of all the forms and what is submitted to keep for their records, and also advice on how to lessen the amount owed or refunded.

"We'll go over everything with people and also educate them on things they can do for future years -- how to lower what you owe, or if how to lower what you get back so they have money in their pockets rather letting the government use it for free. I'm a firm believer in the closer to zero you can get for what you owe or what you get back is best."

Tax help is available year-round at Fort Rucker through Clayton, but during the peak time, such as now until the mid April filing deadline, the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate beefs up the staff to help with the additional workload and to take better care of Soldiers, Family members and retirees as part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, he said.

"Our people are very capable," he said. "We may not know everything, but we take it as a challenge to help everyone out. We may not have the answer right away, but allow us a day or so to do some research and we will figure it out. If it ends up being outside of our scope, we will let you know."

For those do-it-yourselfers out there, the center can provide assistance with advice, information, forms, points of contact for different issues and the staff can also review what people intend to file, Clayton added.

Clayton asks people to be patient when making an appointment as free and popular services such as those at the Tax Center can become overloaded at times. He also reminds people that free help is available elsewhere through other VITA sites in the local community and the IRS office in Dothan.

For more on the Tax Center or to make an appointment, call 255-2937.

Page last updated Thu February 9th, 2012 at 09:47