Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

January 24, 2012 at 3:18am

Servicemembers may see fewer tax refunds this year

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After a record breaking year saving Joint Base Lewis-McChord Soldiers and retirees over $1 million on filing their tax returns and generating $16.6 million in refunds from the 7,800 federal and state returns, the JBLM Tax Center is preparing for another busy year. However, servicemembers may see fewer refunds this year due to changes in the tax codes including the expiration of the Making Work Pay Credit and in most cases, the First Time Homebuyers Credit. Officer in Charge Capt. Sean Flood hopes to continue Lewis-McChord's accuracy track record while saving servicemembers money.

"We conduct a double quality review of everything before filing," he said. "The more sets of eyes on (the return), the more money you get back."

Last year's returns from McChord Field alone had the third lowest rejection rate of all Department of Defense tax centers in the continental U.S. with only 3.7 percent of returns rejected. As a whole, JBLM had the lowest rejection rate of all major Army installations based on volume.

To ensure accuracy, Flood and his staff stress that customers bring Social Security cards, as well as those of all dependents, to the center.

"The No. 1 reason why our returns get rejected is that the names and Social Security numbers do not match with what the IRS has on file," Flood said.

The tax centers request you bring all of your required paperwork to complete your return before arriving. If not, you will be asked to return another day and not be given line preference. The centers will not print documentation on site. Required documents generally include, but are not limited to, W-2s, 1099-Rs, 1099-INTs and, if applicable, any documentation relating to a rental property or itemized deductions.

The staff consists of 28 servicemembers from the installation and two civilians with tax preparation experience. Military members received training from the IRS' Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program and military-specific tax codes.

Specialist Lucas Sutton of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division is excited that the training will save him money in the future.

"I love that it's a great skill to have beyond the Army," Spc, Lucas Sutton said. "I can forever do my own taxes for free."

JBLM Tax Center is also testing a new program entitled Free Assisted Self-Service Tax Preparation at the McChord location. FAST allows people to file taxes electronically on their own for free with a tax preparation service, including H&R Block Free File, Turbo Tax Freedom and TaxSlayer. A trained staff member will be on-site at the designated computer stations to help users with filing and working with the system.

FAST is best for people with a simple tax return, such as no state tax return, few or no assets, and no itemized deductions. Upon arriving at the McChord Tax Center Office the staff will help you decide if FAST is your best option.

The tax center held its ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday and both tax centers open Monday for all 2012 returns. They are free and open to all active duty servicemembers, retirees, activated reservists and National Guardsmen. Expect a wait, especially the first weeks the center is open and as W-2s become available on MyPay on Tuesday.

Unlike recent years, the tax center will be open on Mondays. Hours are subject to change depending on the volume of people. You can call ahead to see how long the wait is prior to arriving. In the past, early daytime hours were the busiest.

All services are available on a walk-in basis. Appointments are available to those who own rental properties, have foreign source income or other foreign issues, home day care, respite care and for E-9s, O-6s or higher and CW-5s.

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