Whether you’re owed money or you owe money, it makes sense – as well as cents – to use the free tax preparation and filing services offered at the tax assistance centers operated by the 21st Theater Support Command.
That’s the main message Donald Davis, a tax coordinator for the 21st TSC, wants to stress as he and his colleagues at the tax assistance center at Kleber Kaserne prepare for an onslaught of tax filings in the next couple of months.
“We have found that a number of younger taxpayers – who for some reason or another feel like they need to get their refunds right away – run out to (commercial) preparers and E-File because they want their money quickly,” said Mr. Davis. “And for that, they pay a fee. We do the same thing here, and we do it for free.”
Mr. Davis said the commercial cost for a simple tax return that only involves a Form 1040 nowadays runs close to $100. If the tax return involves additional forms, then there are added fees, depending on the number and types of forms that are used.
Mr. Davis said his staff can handle even the more complicated tax-filing situations and that a person needs only to make an appointment, or just come into the center, sign in and wait. The average wait time is approximately 15 minutes, he said. And the average time spent on preparing a return is about 15 to 20 minutes, he said.
The Kleber Tax Preparation Center is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
A Refund Anticipation Loan, which are offered by some commercial preparers, involves interest fees for getting the tax refund money up front as a loan. All Soldiers, eligible family members, Department of Defense employees and government ID card holders can take advantage of the free service and have other taxes prepared at the 21st TSC tax centers, he said.
The centers not only prepare taxes, but offer routine advice as well, he said.
“For example, if we see that someone has received a $4,000 return, that individual has obviously had too much money withheld during the year,” he explained. “The individual should have been getting the money up front. And the IRS would prefer it that way, to specify the exact number of exemptions before they file their taxes.”
The tax centers will file the tax returns electronically and prepare state taxes as well. The average time for a refund for someone who has filed electronically is between 10 and 21 days. People need to bring a valid identification and proof of income. In tax filing that involves child care and/or rental property, there are other requirements, so it might be better to pick up a checklist or check with the tax center first.
The filing deadline is April 17, Mr. Davis said, but added that overseas filers are granted an automatic two-month extension. Deployed Soldiers have 180 days after they return to file their taxes.
To reach the Kleber Tax Assistance Center, call 483-7688.