FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Nearly 4,000 tax returns have been filed through the Fort Bragg Tax Center since it began processing returns Jan. 13.
Soldiers and their Families are awaiting more than $7 million in refunds, said Terry Spearman, executive officer of the center. Tax preparation is free at the center and has saved Soldiers more than $550,000.
Located on the corner of Macomb and Armistead streets in the XVIII Airborne Corps Staff Judge Advocated Building, the Fort Bragg Tax Center offers federal and state tax preparation for active-duty service members, retirees and their Family members.
On a recent afternoon, Staff Sgt. John Schoenmeier, 42nd Military Police Detachment, waited with wife, Erin, to have their returns processed.
The couple took turns playing a Nintendo DS game to pass time as they waited.
It would probably cost about $200 to get the taxes prepared off base, said John Schoenmeier, who expected it to average $50 an hour over an estimated four-hour wait.
"It's free," he said. "I haven't gotten audited yet, so it's a good thing."
"I always come here," said Army wife, Alma McDaniel. "We know we have to wait, but you save money not having to pay (for tax preparation) off base."
McDaniel and her husband, Maj. Frederick McDaniel, live in Spring Lake.
They have gotten their taxes done at Fort Bragg Tax Center for the last three years, she said.
"Here, they give you a good service and they're always nice," McDaniel said.
Walk-ins must bring their W-2's and military, dependent or retiree identification cards and a cancelled check if they want to receive their refund by direct deposit.
If filing married without the presence of a spouse or if filing for someone else, the tax applicant must also
present a power of attorney.
Spc. James Parks helps screen applicants as they arrive and remind them of all the documents needed to process their returns.
Typically, spouses forget to bring a power of attorney, said Parks, a Soldier in Company B, 122nd Aviation Support Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.
Retired Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Higgins had all his documents in order.
Higgins, who spent 21 years in the Army, said he has long appreciated the services offered by the tax center.
"It's great," he said. "They were doing taxes here before I retired."
Last year, Fort Bragg Tax Center processed 18,000 returns with more than $20 million in refunds, Spearman said. The center does preparations for all 50 states.
A common issue that presents itself is Soldiers not knowing how much money they are entitled to receive. First-time homebuyers, for instance, are entitled to a $7,500 tax credit if a home was purchased between April 8, 2008 and July 1, 2009, Spearman said. The credit is repaid as a 15-year interest-free loan at $500 per year.
"It always feel good to tell someone that they're getting a whole bunch this year," said Capt. Amy McCarthy, a member of the OSJA.
The deadline for filing taxes is April 15, but deployed Soldiers are automatically extended, Spearman said.
Fort Bragg Tax Center is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays. It will be open until midnight April 14 and 15.
For more information, call 396-1040.