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NEWS | Nov. 3, 2010

Tax Center: Calling all volunteers

By Joseph A. Pollard 11th Wing Judge Advocate

It may not seem possible, but the 2010 tax filing season is almost here. With the flurry of activities associated with the holiday season we often forget about taxes and how we will manage to get them filed correctly.

The Tax Center, located at 1535 Command Dr. Joint Base Andrews, Md., is where to go to get the much needed help filing your taxes.

The Tax Center is scheduled to open its doors in early February and provide free tax return preparation and free electronic filing of your tax returns. This service is open to active duty, retirees and dependents with a valid military ID card. Last year the tax Center prepared more than 600 federal tax returns. The efforts of the volunteers at the Tax Center saved their clients an estimated $112,000 in tax preparation fees and recovered more than $ 2 million in refunds.

The average federal tax preparation fee can range from $65 to $200. The average cost of purchasing a "do-it-yourself" computer tax preparation program is approximately $50. Additionally, filing a state tax return will increase the cost of the preparation. There is also a fee to electronically file a return. As you can see, these fees can quickly add up.

To accomplish its mission, the Tax Center needs volunteers to prepare taxes. If you are saying, "I can't learn how to prepare taxes. It is too hard. This is one volunteer opportunity that I will pass on." Please think again. In the past, the volunteers at the Tax Center have come from all ranks, retirees, civilians and dependents and from all different occupations and education levels. The preparation of taxes is no longer done with a pencil, calculator and eraser. The process of preparing taxes is much simpler and less confusing than what most people think. As a volunteer you will be given extensive tax preparation training from the IRS and the 11th Wing Staff Judge Advocate's office. This training will include general tax law, new changes in the tax law and computer training.

Volunteers are encouraged from the active duty ranks. For an active duty member, this is a great opportunity to embrace the Air Force's Core Values. Providing tax assistance requires integrity and excellence in the preparation of tax returns, and volunteerism that helps fellow Air Force members is an example of service before self. For active duty members, this experience will be an extra duty that can be accomplished during duty hours with your commander's permission. Additionally, you could be assigned as your unit's tax advisor. Military dependents and retirees are also an important addition to the volunteers that support the Tax Center. Without the support of volunteers the Tax Center cannot provide this much needed free service.

The 11 WG Staff Judge Advocate's office is now taking volunteers. Tax training begins in January, therefore, we need your name now to get an accurate number of volunteers prior to training. If you would like to volunteer or would like additional information on this program, please contact Tech. Sgt. Myisha Richardson at Myisha.Richardson@afncr.af.mil or 301-981-2042 by Dec. 1.