Tax center offers free services on post
Tod Clayton, tax coordinator, Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, Lt. Col. Patrick L. Gary, staff judge advocate, and Justin O. Mitchell, deputy garrison commander, officially open the tax assistance center in Bldg. 5700 during a ribbon cutting ceremony Jan. 25.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (January 31, 2013) -- The Fort Rucker Tax Assistance Center opened Jan. 25 to provide free services as tax season gets into full swing.

The tax center, located in Bldg. 5700 in Rm. 371F, serves active-duty military, retirees and military Family members for basic tax preparation, and people should take advantage of this free service if they can, according to Tod Clayton, tax coordinator at the center.

"We [tax center staff members] tend to know more about military discounts and benefits that some Soldiers or Family members may not be familiar with or aware of," said Clayton. "We've been doing this for several years now within the community and we work hand-in-hand with the [Internal Revenue Service]."

The center is open, but is by appointment only. People can call and set up a time between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays to get their taxes done between now and April 15. The center is able to prepare state returns for free and 1040EZ, 1048 and "just 1040s."

The tax coordinator said that the earlier people file, the earlier they can get their return.

"It takes about 10 days and people will receive their refunds," he said.

The center accountants and volunteers see about 25-30 people a day, according to Clayton, but he reminds people that they are limited to what they can do.

"We don't do businesses and we don't do more than one rental property," he said. "So those with complicated tax returns, such as ones with many investments or stocks, go beyond the scope of what the center can provide."

There are certain documents that are required of people when filing, such as: exemptions; filing status; Social Security cards for all Family members; all forms including W-2, 1098 forms; 1099-DIV and/or INT, 1099-G and 1099-MISC; bank account and routing numbers; and a copy of their last year's tax return, if available.

"We ask that people bring their prior year's tax return when they come so that we can review what they've done in the past and get some information that could possibly carry over," said Clayton.

Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, spoke at the opening ceremony.

"They say the only two constants in life are death and taxes," he said. "Over 1,800 taxes were performed at the facility last year [and in] the last year alone the money that was saved in tax preparations was [more than] an accumulative amount of $300,000."

A typical tax return costs anywhere from $70 to $150, according to Clayton, "so we are saving Families a lot of money."

Spc. William Granger, 46th Engineering Battalion, appreciated the opportunity to get his taxes done on post and was first in line Friday.

"It is so much better than having to pay someone to file for me and it's great having this location on post. Anything I can do to save some money helps, and I am sure a lot of others feel the same way," he said.

Clayton said that people should also go ahead and start preparing for next year's taxes.

"One of the big things that people should do throughout the year is to check their withholdings," he said. "They should make sure that they aren't having either too much withheld or not enough."

He said that having too much taken out can act as a savings account as most of the money will be refunded when filing the next year, but if people could use the money throughout the year, they should make sure to balance it out.

But, if not enough is being withheld, that can result in actually owing money at the end of the year rather than getting a refund.

The center is a volunteer-based program with trained, certified volunteers doing the tax preparations. People that have tax backgrounds who are interested in volunteering at the center can do so as long as they are willing to get the necessary certifications.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 255-2937 or 255-2938.

Page last updated Thu January 31st, 2013 at 12:11