By Patrick YoungMay 17, 2019
Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield garrison commander, Col. Jason A. Wolter applauded an innovative concept during an award ceremony held at the 3rd Infantry Division Museum April 25, on Fort Stewart.
Developed by the 3rd Infantry Division's Staff Judge Advocate's Office, traditional tax preparation services were expanded to include self-help kiosks with Internal Revenue Service trained tax assistants, to help Soldiers, retirees and their families fill out their own taxes.
"Our focus was not just helping Soldiers prepare their taxes this year," said 3rd ID Staff Judge Advocate, Col. Steven M. Ranieri. "But helping them learn how the process works. Helping them gain confidence. So, in the future, they would feel comfortable doing their own taxes. Overall, it is good financial readiness."
The tax centers opened in early January and closed April 18. During that time, the officer in charge of the tax centers, Capt. Laura S. Hernandez, said they served 3,176 clients, providing nearly $4 million in refunds and a cost avoidance of more than $1.2 million in preparation fees.
The IRS took notice of the success of the Marne Tax Center and the education opportunity offered with the kiosks - supported by tax assistants. Hernandez said the IRS said the Marne Tax centers were among the best in the nation.
"The kiosks provide a unique opportunity to educate and empower the community, while assisting with financial planning," Hernandez said.
Wolter said if you look at the interactive customer evaluations comments that were submitted for this year's tax centers, you would realize the effort the tax center staff put forth to make it a success.
He explained it was great the IRS was considering making the center a best practice and sharing the concept - as imitation is the best form of flattery. But more, he said, the tax center staff should be proud for making a difference and helping the greater community.