GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- This week marks the opening of the tax filing season for U.S. Army tax centers in Bavaria. Garrison and brigade commanders joined taxpayers recently at opening ceremonies at each of the Bavarian community tax centers to usher in the free tax preparation services.

The 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command tax program has one mission: offer free tax filing services to Soldiers, spouses and Department of Defense civilians, and get them the most money back on their returns.

The program runs from Feb. 1 until the overseas filing deadline of June 15. Soldiers and civilians should bring all of their relevant documents when scheduling appointments and visiting the tax centers. Soldiers, civilian employees and retirees can download W-2 forms and other tax statements from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service at

Most banks and investment companies will mail statements of interest and dividends, Form 1099, by the end of January. Taxpayers should bring all W-2 and 1099 forms to the tax center, as well as a Social Security Card for each family member and bank routing and account numbers for refund purposes.

In order to claim a child on a tax return, the child needs a Social Security Number. Overseas, this should be done in conjunction with the birth registration process through the passport office, or by calling the Federal Benefits Unit at the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, 069-7535-2440.

Although taxpayers may file their taxes before the SSN is assigned, they may not claim that child on their tax return. After the number is assigned, they may amend the return, but this is a burdensome process.

Taxpayers with complicated returns should dedicate extra time at their tax appointments and ensure that they have all necessary documents. A tax return is considered complicated when it includes capital gains (sales of stocks or bonds), rental real estate income or losses, foreign earned income, foreign taxes paid or when spouses have different states of residence and must prepare multiple state returns.

Taxpayers should always bring a copy of their prior tax year return to their appointment.

Individuals who are deployed or otherwise unavailable during the tax season can have their spouse file their return during their absence as long as the spouse has a notarized power of attorney that specifies the ability to file taxes on their behalf. However, Soldiers deployed to combat zones have a minimum of 180 days after leaving the combat zone to file the current year's taxes.

Taxpayers must report all income from sources outside the U.S. whether or not they reside inside or outside the U.S. and whether or not the taxpayer receives a Form W-2 or 1099 from the foreign payer. This reporting requirement applies to earned income (salary, wages, tips) and unearned income (interest, dividends, capital gains, pensions, rents and royalties). However, when filing the return, non-federal employee taxpayers may be able to exclude up to $92,900 of foreign earned income.

The 7th Army JMTC Office of the Staff Judge Advocate operates tax centers in Ansbach (Katterbach and Illesheim), Bamberg, Garmisch, Grafenwoehr, Hohenfels, Schweinfurt and Vilseck.

Last tax season, these local tax centers prepared 13,476 federal and state returns, saving clients $1.86 million in preparation and filing fees and generating $23.67 million in direct deposit refunds for our community. Tax centers will close June 30.

Tax Centers will be open for business from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. to prepare free tax returns Soldiers and eligible civilians. For more information, contact your local JMTC tax center.

Grafenwoehr: DSN 475-9258, CIV 09641-83-9258. Bldg. 216.
Rose Barracks: DSN 476-2741, CIV 09662-83-2741. Bldg. 245.
Hohenfels: DSN 466-2817, CIV 09472-83-2817. Bldg. 313.
Garmisch: DSN 440-3516, CIV 08821-750-3516. Bldg. 203, Room #004.