By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)January 19, 2017
The Fort Leonard Wood Tax Center opened Tuesday for the 2017 tax season with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"The tax cen ter is very important to everyone here, not just the Soldiers but retirees and Family members," said Col. Tracy Lanier, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander.
"We're going to break some record here because you guys are highly trained," he added, talking to the tax center volunteers and employees.
The tax center hours of operation are scheduled from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every other Saturday.
Appointments can be made by calling the tax center at 573.596.0131, ext. 61040. Eligible customers include active-duty military, their Families, retirees and reserve component members on orders of 29 days or more to Fort Leonard Wood.
Clients should bring: military identification, last year's tax return, Social Security cards for themselves and any dependents being claimed, W-2's, 1099's, interest statements, proof of health insurance, a voided check or bank routing and account numbers, a power of attorney, if required; a completed client intake form provided by the tax center and any other related documents to justify itemized deductions.
"Every one of our returners are qualified to the advanced level on the IRS VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program," said Capt. Trevor Smothers, tax center officer in charge. "It can be a pretty intense training course."
The training to become certified lasted only a week, but the learning process has been ongoing, said Sgt. Kejuan McNear, a tax center volunteer.
"The training was very detailed," he said. "After the training we did the practice labs, getting hands-on, to put what we learned into action. Even then, we are still learning every day, depending on what type of return we are doing."
Volunteers received specific training on various scenarios that could affect a service member's tax return, Smothers said. Specific scenarios include rental properties and fees associated with rentals, spouse's income in a state that is not the home of record and moving between duty stations within a tax year.
The Fort Leonard Wood Tax Center has 12 Soldier volunteers, four civilian volunteers and two civilian employees working to file returns for customers.
Last year, the Fort Leonard Wood Tax Center helped more than 7,780 customers and saved more than $1.5 million in filing fees, Lanier said.
It was the cost-savings aspect that led Marine Staff Sgt. Josh Owen and his wife, Victoria, to not only use the tax center on post, but also to be one of the first customers after the center opened for business.
The tax center, operated by the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, is located on the first floor of Building 315, at the intersection of Missouri and Headquarters avenues.
It is scheduled to be open through April 18, the end of tax season.