Tax center opening
Staff Sgt. Alycia Cuffee, Col. Runo Richardson, Spc. Katerina Wierkel and Col. Chad R. Foster, commander, U.S. Army Garrison - Fort Hood, cut a ribbon to officially open the tax center at Fort Hood, Texas, Feb. 7. By preparing taxes for free, last year the tax center saved Fort Hood community members an estimated $685,000 in preparation fees. (Photo Credit: Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT HOOD, Texas - Twenty-eight volunteers stepped up this year to help the Soldiers, families and retirees file their tax returns here.

“It’s really important to point that out,” explained Col. Chad R. Foster, commander of U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood. “What you’re doing here is a big deal and it has an impact on readiness.”

The Fort Hood Tax Center opened for business following a ribbon cutting ceremony at its new location, Bldg. 42004 Legends Way, Feb. 7. The building is located on the small hill west of Howze Auditorium. The entrance can be accessed on the south side of the building, with parking available on the north and south sides.

Before receiving their tax preparation certification, the 28 Soldier volunteers helped clear out the new building, providing a larger waiting room and an extensive amount of rooms for privacy while discussing tax issues.

Capt. Chris Garza, officer-in-charge of the tax center, said the goal of a larger building is to keep people socially distanced throughout the process. He said clients are asked to leave all their paperwork with the tax preparer, who will call them when done, so they can sign the return and receive their paperwork back.

The Fort Hood Tax Center prepared returns for approximately 2,000 Soldiers, retirees and family members in 2021, with an error rate of .04%.

By preparing taxes for free, the tax center saved the Fort Hood community an estimated $685,600 in tax preparation fees.

This year’s tax preparers are certified through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.

While normal tax professionals are certified in basic or advanced tax preparation, the Fort Hood volunteers are also certified in military tax preparation.

Military tax preparation has specific issues, such as rental property or non-taxable deployment pay that requires special attention. Tax returns will be filed electronically, allowing clients faster access to their tax return refund.

Garza said all of the tax preparers have been training for the tax season and are looking forward to streamlining the process so they can better serve the Fort Hood community.

To make everything run as smoothly as possible, Garza stated clients need to bring with them a copy of their military identification, social security card for every family member, all income documents, such as W2s, 1099s, interest income from banking, miscellaneous income, child care expense receipts, college 1098-Ts, rental property information, banking information for the refund to be deposited into and a copy of last year’s tax return.

Tax day
(Photo Credit: Graphic courtesy Fort Hood Sentinel) VIEW ORIGINAL

Tax services are available to active duty personnel, families, retirees and National Guardsmen or Reservists on active duty orders. Some tax services are out of scope. For those with unusual needs, Garza recommended clients call to make sure their taxes can be completed with the tax center.

If the Soldier or spouse is unavailable, a power of attorney is required. The POA needs to be very specific, to include the exact purpose and tax year. A POA can be done at the legal assistance office, which is located in Bldg. 13, on 52nd Street.

Before cutting the ribbon to open the new building, Foster told the tax preparers that what they are doing is important work for readiness on the installation.

“You are making a difference every day. Every one of those tax returns you prepare is making a difference,” Foster said. “Every engagement you have with a family member, with a retiree, with anyone who walks through that door, is your chance to show them that Fort Hood cares about them, cares about this community, and it will be a testament to your character and your service to do that.”

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, appointments are mandatory and can be made by calling 254-287-3809.