FORT RUCKER, Ala. (January 17, 2013) -- As tax season approaches, filing returns is one more thing added to the already busy lives of military Soldiers and their Families, but the Fort Rucker Tax Assistance Center is looking to relieve some of that stress by offering free tax services.

The tax center, located in Bldg. 5700, will open for business Jan. 24 to all active-duty Soldiers, retirees and military Family members for basic tax preparations, and people should take advantage of this free service if they can, according to Tod Clayton, tax coordinator at the center.

"We [here at the tax center] tend to know more about military discounts and benefits that some Soldiers or Family members may not be familiar with or aware of," said Clayton. "We've been doing this for several years now within the community [here on Fort Rucker] and we work hand-in-hand with the [Internal Revenue Service]."

The center prepares taxes by appointment only and will open up their phone lines Jan. 22 for people to call and set up a time between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to get their taxes done, said the tax coordinator, adding that the earlier people file, the earlier they can get their return.

Because of recent legislation, taxes cannot be filed before Jan. 30, but that doesn't mean that people can't already have them done and ready, according to Clayton.

"Soldiers will receive their W-2s this year on Jan. 24, and although the IRS isn't accepting any returns before Jan. 30, we will be able to go ahead and prepare people's taxes and hold them until they can be submitted," he said.

There are certain things people need and must know when filing their taxes, and certain documents that are required of people when filing, such as: exemptions; filing status; Social Security cards for all Family members; all forms including W-2, 1098 forms; 1099-DIV and/or INT, 1099-G and 1099-MISC; bank account and routing numbers; and a copy of their last year's tax return, if available.

"We ask that people bring their prior year's tax return when they come so that we can review what they've done in the past and get some information that could possibly carry over," said Clayton.

It's important for people to know that the tax center only does basic tax returns, he added, so those with very complicated tax returns, such as one with many investments or stocks, goes beyond the scope of what the center can provide. But for the typical, average Soldier the center should have no problem getting them their maximum return.

Clayton said that people should go ahead and start looking toward their next year of taxes.

"One of the big things that people should do throughout the year is to check their withholdings," he said. "They should make sure that they aren't having either too much withheld or not enough."

He said that having too much taken out can actually act as a savings account as most of the money will be refunded when filing the next year, but if people could use the money throughout the year, they should make sure to balance it out.

Also, if not enough is being withheld, that can result in actually owing money at the end of the year rather than getting a refund.

The center is a volunteer-based program with trained, certified volunteers doing the tax preparations. People that have tax backgrounds who are interested in volunteering at the center can do so as long as they are willing to get the necessary certifications, said Clayton. All volunteers are certified by the IRS and go through a training course to get them up to speed.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 255-2937 or 255-2938.