By Karen A. Iwamoto, Hawaii Army Weekly, U.S. Army Garrison, HawaiiJanuary 30, 2015
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- After a month of rigorous training, Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division, the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, the 500th Military Intelligence Brigade and the 311th Signal Command are ready to take on their latest mission: helping military ID holders file their 2015 taxes.
The Schofield Barracks Tax Center, which is staffed by more than 30 Soldiers who are certified by the IRS and have received training from tax experts at the Pentagon, opens 10 a.m. Monday.
The free service is available to all military ID holders, including Soldiers, spouses, retirees and qualifying family members.
"The Tax Center is a fantastic and free program, saving clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax preparation fees every year and helping them get millions of dollars in refunds," said Capt. Eugenee Gray, a legal assistance attorney with U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii and the officer in charge of the Tax Center.
All of the Tax Center Soldiers have practiced preparing tax returns by hand and by using the IRS TaxWise program. This training ensures that they know how to spot program errors and explain the laws behind tax return results.
"Soldiers are in a unique position to help other Soldiers because they understand certain military-specific tax issues that commercial preparers may not have the experience to understand, such as the difference between AR 608-99 support and alimony, or tax-exempt combat-zone pay," Gray said.
Staff Sgt. Jason Pruitt of the 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, and one of the Tax Center volunteers, said he especially looks forward to helping younger Soldiers and young families who may not have the means or knowledge to file their taxes properly on their own.
"We could be putting money back in their pocket," he said.
During its first week, the Tax Center will focus on walk-ins for personnel at the E-4 pay grade and below, which is its main clientele.
"Like anything you volunteer for, it makes you feel good to help," added Staff Sgt. Brad Welch, also of the 8th MP Bde., 8th TSC.
Those who want to take advantage of the Tax Center's services should bring their Social Security cards, military ID cards and relevant tax documents, such as their W2s, 1099s and 1098s. If applicable, they should also bring a void check for direct deposit of their refund, an IRS power of attorney (if a spouse cannot be present) and a copy of a divorce decree.
"Because our program is entirely free to clients, the Tax Center Soldiers have only one goal," Gray said, "to serve their fellow Soldiers with reliable and professional tax assistance."
• Tax Center Hours
The Schofield Barracks Tax Center is located at TRL 1, Grimes Street, across from Hamilton Field and near the I Quad. Its hours of operation follow:
•9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
•10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
•10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays of February and March.
Call (808) 655-1040 for more information or to make an appointment.