By Jim Cunningham, USAG-RC Public AffairsFebruary 5, 2009
USAG-CASEY - Soldiers, Civilians and dependents can now breathe a sigh of relief since the 2008 tax season and the Area I Tax Center has opened. Tax customers had booked up the morning schedule before the new center cut the ribbon Jan. 27.
"Our telephones have been ringing off the hook," said Capt. Jon Schoenwetter, Area I Tax Center officer in charge. "We will actually be seeing customers before we cut the ribbon at 9:15."
"We are not just opening a tax center today," said Lt. Col. Donald Meisler, USAG-Casey garrison commander. "We are opening a rejuvenated tax center. We want to thank everyone involved at the Legal Center today, Lt. Col. Michael Lutton, Capt. Cynthia Marshall, and Capt. Jon Schoenwetter. Thank you for what you are about to embark. The professionalism and training you have put in place will go a long way in finding peace of mind for all who seek assistance here."
The Tax Center at Maude Hall has no reason to be surprised at their popularity. Last tax season they prepared more than 1,800 tax returns for a collected refund value of more than $1.5 million. They did all this without charging tax payers a dime.
A good reason for getting a head start on taxes this year is, if a tax payer did not receive his stimulus check last year because he or she was ineligible, there is a rebate credit they can get on their tax return.
"This fact has not been publicized," Schoenwetter said. "If you filed last year but for some reason you were not eligible because you were a dependent, did not make enough money, or for some reason did not get a stimulus check last year, it is not too late. You can get it in the form of a rebate credit this year. This could be as much as $600 to someone who thought they missed it last year."
Another good reason for tax payers to get an early start on filing their taxes this year is the Internal Revenue Service does not allow extensions for paying taxes. If one owes taxes, the IRS will begin charging interests April 16. However, tax payers outside the United States have two additional months to file their returns.
Tax Assistance Centers will open at USAG-Red Cloud Freeman Hall Feb. 10 and Camp Stanley in building 2333 Feb. 11.
"We will be open at Maude Hall five days a week," Schoenwetter said. "We will be open at Red Cloud Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Camp Stanley on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m."
Tax Center hours in Maude Hall are: Tuesday and Wednesday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday 1 to 5 p.m. because of Sergeant's time, Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The last appointment will start one hour before closing.
"We are taking Mondays as our weekend day so we can be open Saturdays to see more Soldiers," Schoenwetter said. "We may extend Saturday hours to meet the needs of Soldiers, if it gets really busy."
When walking in the tax center one will recognize changes from last year.
"This year we have completely re-furnished the center," Schoenwetter said. "Last year the room was open with no bay walls, this did not allow for the required privacy, given the nature of the private information being discussed with tax preparers."
For this tax season the center is divided into more than six cubical bays and privacy is more secure, explained Schoenwetter.