By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterMay 20, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 20, 2016) -- The Fort Rucker Tax Center had another successful season helping Soldiers file their taxes.
Although not all Soldiers were eligible for a tax return, those on the installation who did received a total of $453,733 in state refunds and $2,783,808 in federal refunds, for a total of over $3.1 million, according to Tod Clayton, volunteer income tax coordinator at the center. The center also filed a total of 1,327 e-files for federal and 993 state returns, an increase over last year, saving Soldiers a total of $444,054 in preparation fees.
"The season was a complete success," he said, and although tax season is over, the tax center will still operate year round at the legal assistance office where it will continue to serve Soldiers.
"We are still open for Soldiers who are deployed and for those who have not filed their taxes yet due to an extension or amendments on their returns," he said. Soldiers can file amendments for up to the past three years if they feel a mistake was made on past returns. They will need to file a 1040X form and provide their past tax returns.
Clayton said that if Soldiers have made mistakes on their returns, they should seek out the help from the tax center for an amended return.
"It's something we can do year round that we're happy to help with," he said. "I've had a few people come in and tell me that they forgot to do a few things and I've been able to help them with their amended returns."
For amended returns, people should call the legal assistance office to make an appointment.
For those with extensions, Clayton said that typically people will not be penalized for filing for an extension, but if a balance is due, it's not an extension to pay one's taxes. Taxes are meant to be paid by April 15, he said, and an extension only helps a person who doesn't have a balance due. Those who owe taxes are subject to interest and penalties by the Internal Revenue Service.
Clayton also advises people to start prepping for the next tax season as soon as they can.
If people are getting a large refund back or owing a lot of money, they have the option to adjust their withholdings, said the tax coordinator.
"Also, if there are big changes in your life, such as going from single to married, then you may be getting more money back -- these are things you need to adjust for," he said.
Although the next tax season is far from people's view, the calendar year is already about five months in, so people should be ready for when the new tax season rolls around.
"You want to make sure that you keep what you owe, if anything, under $500," said Clayton. "If you owe more than that, you're supposed to estimate taxes, which requires people to pay out every quarter."
If the adjustments aren't made on their tax forms, individuals could either have too much taken out of their paychecks or not enough, which could result in a large refund or a lot of money owed at the end of the year.
Although Clayton said that a large refund might not seem like a bad thing, it just means it's less money that people are getting per paycheck. So, if it's money that they could use now, they need to make the adjustments as soon as possible.
It's a matter of wanting the money in your paycheck or wanting it all at the end of the year, he said, and putting more toward taxes is a good way for some to save money.
Another thing that Clayton said Soldiers and families should look for is which state they are claiming residency in when doing their taxes.
"Depending on the state, a lot of states don't have income tax for military personnel, so if they have residency in a state that doesn't tax military pay, but currently reside in one that does, they might be able to avoid paying state income tax," he said, adding that it can be a slippery slope and Soldiers should ask a tax professional first before making those changes. When in doubt, always ask.
For more information, call 255-3482.