By Bruce Anglin and Cpt. Landon Medley Legal Assistance Office - Fort StewartDecember 20, 2013
Fort Stewart, Ga. - The tax filing season is nearly upon us. The Marne Tax Center, with locations at both Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, will open for business on Jan. 27 to provide federal and state tax assistance and electronic filing for eligible individuals, including active duty service members and their Family Members, and military retired personnel and their Family Members.
In order to provide more information about the services provided by the Tax Center and to better assist those eligible individuals we hope will take advantage of these free services, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions.
Q: What services does the Marne Tax Center offer and who is eligible for services?
A: The Marne Tax Center is a command program supervised by the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate. Its mission is to provide quality, cost-free tax preparation services to eligible individuals. All of our tax preparers are IRS-trained and certified as volunteer preparers and use TaxWise Software, issued and endorsed by the IRS. We prepare federal and most state returns and provide electronic filing.
Those services typically outside the scope of the Tax Center involve the preparation of taxes for businesses and individuals engaged in "day trading" activities.
Q: When will the Marne Tax Center open this year and where are their locations?
A: The Marne Tax Center will be opening for business on Jan. 27. Hours of operations for walk-in clients will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Additionally, The Marne Tax Center will have extended hours until 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursdays. The Tax Center will also be accepting a limited number of "drop-off" returns. Stay tuned for further announcements regarding limited Saturday hours.
The Stewart office location is to be determined and will be announced soon. The Hunter office is located at 638 Horace Emmet Wilson Boulevard, Building 1211 (also in the same building as the Hunter Legal Assistance Office).
Q: What are the benefits of having my taxes prepared at the Marne Tax Center as opposed to any of the available commercial tax preparation providers?
A: First, it is a free service; eligible clients do not have to pay to have their returns prepared. Our dedicated and trained staff is ready to prepare both your federal and state tax returns at no cost to you and your Family. There is no charge for the preparation of your returns and no interest or fees in connection with our services. In addition, by electronically filing your taxes any refund due to you will usually be received within seven to ten business days. Another benefit to having your taxes prepared at the Marne Tax Center is that if there are any errors in your return, we have tax specialists available year round to assist you in correcting the problem. If you chose to use an outside tax preparer and the IRS later alerts you to a problem or error, you will need to track down and return to that same private tax preparer for help. This can sometimes lead to problems if the error is discovered after the regular tax season has ended as many private tax preparation providers are only open seasonally.
Q: What do I need to bring with me?
A: In order for our tax preparers to provide customers with the best service and assistance, you will need to bring all of the proper documents and a little bit of patience. You will need to bring the following documents as they apply to your situation:
Income statements from all sources (W-2, 1099-MISC, 1099-R, etc.)
Property tax receipts (deductible in year actually paid)
Military ID for taxpayer and spouse
Home mortgage interest statements
Social Security card or memo from Social Security Administration for taxpayer, spouse and any dependents
Student loan interest statements
Divorce decree (if applicable)
Statements reflecting capital losses/gains
Power of Attorney (if necessary)
Prior year federal and state tax returns
Receipt/proof of purchase for new car purchased in 2013
Proof of dependent care expenses (including name, address, and Tax ID of daycare provider)
Interest income statements (1099-INT)
For those taxpayers claiming domicile in states other than Georgia, you must have the city/county/school district information or the state you are filing in
IRA/TSP contribution statements
Dividend income statements (1099-DIV)
Proof of educator expenses
Receipts for charitable contributions
Additionally, if you have received any letters or other correspondence from the IRS throughout the year, be sure to bring all of those documents as well
Q: When should I bring my taxes in for filing?
A: You must have all necessary documents before you can file your taxes. While it is best to file as early as possible, some may not have all the documents available to file for several weeks after the tax season begins. If you own a personal residence, you should wait until you receive your 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement(s) in order to take advantage of deductions/credits that may be available. Likewise, if you own a rental property, you may not have received the invoice from the property manager which will reflect deductible expenses. If you have taxable interest or dividends that you receive, you will need to wait until you receive your 1099 INT or 1099 DIV prior to filing so that the correct amount is included and you won't have to needlessly amend the original return. If you don't have all your necessary documents when the tax season opens (e.g. social security cards, all W2s, 1099s) wait until you have all before you file your return.
Q: I was deployed last year and still have not filed last year's tax return. Can the tax center help me file both returns?
Yes, the Marne Tax Center will be able to help redeployed service members in filing both 2012 and 2013 tax returns. The tax filing deadline extends automatically while the service member is deployed. However, the extension is only 180 days, pluswhatever time was left in the regular tax season when the Servicemember first deployed. The IRS does not charge interest or penalties during the extension period. If you still have to file your 2012 tax return, please try to come to the Tax Center as soon as you can so your extension does not expire.
Q: What if I can't find my or my Family Member's social security card? Can't I just bring my military ID card?
A: It is essential that you bring your social security card with you to the Marne Tax Center. Before filing your tax return, we need to be certain that the name and social security number on your tax return exactly matches the information contained in the social security administrations records in Washington. If the information does not match, your taxes will not properly be filed.
Alternatively, we will also accept a memorandum from the Social Security Administration identifying the taxpayer or Family Member. If you cannot find your social security card, please visit www.ssa.gov ask for the Social Security Administration in Savannah, Ga. at 430 Mall Boulevard number 1, Savannah, Ga., 31406.