By T. Anthony BellFebruary 6, 2014
FORT LEE, Va. (Feb. 6, 2014) -- Maj. Gen. Larry D. Wyche is usually a busy man with little time to spare, but he said it was worth the effort to carve out a niche in his schedule to participate in the Tax Assistance Center grand opening Monday at building 6052 on Mekong Road.
"A lot of folks on the outside can't relate to what a service like this provides," he said. "I was looking at some of the numbers and the Tax Center did more than 1,800 federal and 1,500 state tax returns last year, saving our Soldiers, civilians and retirees more than a half million dollars (in tax preparation fees). That's absolutely significant."
Col. Ralph J. Tramaglio III, the staff judge advocate, helped Wyche cut the ribbon. He said the TAC is an important element in the Army's commitment to military members and their families.
"It's important that we continue to take care of our Soldiers," he said. "It's wonderful that we can continue to do this based on today's fiscal environment. It's even better that the CG can come out and help us open the facility. He's a huge supporter, and he uses the service himself."
The TAC, administered by the Staff Judge Advocate, has offered free tax preparation services since 1988. It has done so with the help of trained military manpower and a perennial group of civilian volunteers, many of whom are former military who have worked as preparers in the private sector. They include year-round volunteer Walter D. Stith, who Wyche commended during his remarks and who is starting his 21st year of service to the community. Stith said he was ready to start the tax season.
"I'm raring to go just like it was the first year," said the septuagenarian after the ceremony. "I enjoy helping all the individuals who need help with their taxes."
Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Byers, the TAC noncommissioned officer in charge, said Stith and the other seven volunteers will be complemented by nine Soldiers. He said their preparations have been made easy through the continuity of the SJA and expertise of the volunteers.
"All of the civilians have been outstanding," he said. "They've given their personal time to the Soldiers, and that means a lot."
Those who plan on visiting the TAC should know there are a number of preparations they can take to ensure an efficient customer service experience.
"An important thing to know before they come in is to make sure they have the proper documents based on their particular situation," said Capt. Udvaldo Lopez, the TAC officer in charge. Visitors who are not sure about what to bring can always call first, he added.
Some documents that are typically required to complete tax returns are W-2s, 1099 and 1098 forms and any documents related to itemized deductions to include college tuition, child care, individual retirement accounts, student loans, interest statements, alimony payment and stock or mutual fund sales.
Other documents needed include identification cards, Social Security cards, dates of birth for family members, children's Social Security numbers, and a copy of the tax year 2012 return. Taxpayers should also bring bank account information, such as a cancelled check, for direct deposit.
For those eligible patrons who prefer to prepare their own taxes, Lopez said there is the prospect of missing out on refunds. He has a solution.
"If you want to do your own taxes, that is fine," he said, "but since this is a free service, you can let us do your taxes and check our work with what you've done. It's more of a quality check, and all that costs is your time."
For more information or to make an appointment, call (804) 734-5732.