It’s the most wonderful time of the year – tax time!

Photo illustration by JR Orlando

Photo illustration by JR Orlando

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- It's about that time of the year again! And I don't mean the Holiday Season. I mean everybody’s REAL favorite time of the year... TAX SEASON!

Are you ready to help save military members $40,000 in tax preparation fees? Are you ready to help return $500,000 from tax returns back in the pockets of military members on Goodfellow Air Force Base? If you are looking for a volunteer opportunity where you can work as a team in a joint, collaborative tax preparation process, look no further. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program awaits! Through this program you can gain an amazing foundation of tax knowledge that will pay dividends in both your personal and professional life for years to come.

This year the VITA program will offer free tax assistance to active duty military members, E-5 and below, assigned to Goodfellow, providing free income tax return preparation and electronic filing for both federal and state returns. Additionally, the VITA program will assist military retirees making less than $64,000 adjusted gross income, family members of deployed Guard/Reserve, and local recruiters, E-5 and below.

The Air Education Training Center student populations have their returns completed at the Student Tax Center located at the 316 Training Squadron military training leader’s office, while permanent party individuals have their returns completed at convenient locations on base with their unit VITA representative. The legal office also serves as the Base Tax Center, helping military retirees and other applicable military members without a unit representative.

Between Jan. 22-26, there will be a week-long block of instruction taught by the IRS on Goodfellow to train individuals on tax preparation. We try to make the training as fun as taxes can be. The training is a prerequisite to serving as a VITA representative. The VITA program will run between late Jan. until tax day on April 17, with VITA representatives helping active duty military members and military retirees with their tax returns throughout that period.

Volunteers are not alone in the preparation process. Each return is completed with the assistance of the legal office team, other experienced volunteers and the IRS representatives assigned to our VITA program. The entire process is joint and collaborative. Volunteers have 10 or more years of experience providing guidance to new preparers with zero tax experience prior to the week-long IRS class.

To give an idea of the success of the program, we completed 380 federal returns and 216 state returns last tax season for a total of 596 returns combined. The total federally refunded amount was $463,621 and the total state amount was $43,635 for a combined total of $507,256. Also, we saved individuals an estimated $55,575 in preparation fees.

The only requirements for serving as a representative include having a common access card, approval from your chain of command to serve as the unit representative, and attending the week-long training course. Both Department of Defense civilians and military members are encouraged to volunteer. In the end, the training and program present a unique opportunity for professional development and volunteer participation, providing volunteers with an amazing foundation on tax fundamentals.

For volunteers, call the legal office if you have any questions or to reserve a training slot. For taxpayers, when late-January rolls around, please feel free to contact the legal office to determine your unit representative or if you qualify for tax assistance, students can coordinate with their MTLs.

Taxpayers will be required to bring the following documents to tax appointments:
- Military ID, W-2 forms
- Social Security cards (taxpayer, spouse, and/or dependents)
- proof of bank account (a void check/deposit slip) if direct deposit is requested,
- HUD-1 forms
- 1099 INT and DIV forms
- Power of Attorney (if necessary)
- Form 1098 (mortgage interest statement)
- proof of child care expenses
- receipts for deductible expenses if itemizing
- other tax related documents.

Additionally, first year active duty military members need to know if a parent is claiming them as a dependent, and it is recommended that each individual make copies of each applicable form.