Center provides free tax service

By Andrea Sutherland

Mountaineer staff

Allan Westphal and his wife, Grace Westphal, wasted no time filing their taxes this year. The couple was first in line at the Fort Carson Tax Center, Tuesday, as it opened to servicemembers and retirees.

“We’re on a fixed income,” he said. “We could step on a dime and tell you whether it was heads or tails.”

Allan Westphal, a retiree, said it was easier to file taxes on post.

“We live just off post so it’s easier and it doesn’t cost anything,” he said.

Tax center operators have made several strides to improve services to the community in the past two years.

“We’re trying to reach out and be more accessible,” said Capt. Amy Cohn, Office of the Judge Advocate General and organizer of the tax center. “We want to thank the commanding general and garrison commander for providing us the support we needed to accomplish this mission.”

Cohn said approximately 30 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Tuesday, including 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson commanding

general Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson and Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Stall.

Located in building 1358 on Barkeley Avenue, clients may park in the barracks parking lots. Those requiring handicap parking should arrange with the tax center to park on the sidewalks before the scheduled appointment.

Cohn said the center is staffed with 16 Soldiers certified by the Internal Revenue Service as well as civilians and volunteers.

“Last year we filed more than 3,100 federal returns,” she said. “This year we’re hoping to do more than that.”

In 2012, Cohn said tax preparers helped clients save more than $800,000 in preparation fees and receive $9.5 million in refunds.

To improve its customer service, she said an additional phone line was added to help with the large call volume.

In order to expedite appointments, clients should come prepared with a copy of their 2011 tax return; 2012

W-2s and forms 1099s and 1098s; Social Security cards for Soldiers and Family members; copies of court orders for divorce, child custody and child support and Form 8332 for divorces after 2008; as well as documentation for child care costs, individual retirement account contributions, stock, bond or mutual fund sales and alimony paid or received.

Cohn stressed clients should bring actual Social Security cards and not copies to appointments. To obtain a Social Security card, call 574-9279 or visit the Social Security Office in Colorado Springs located at 1049 N. Academy Blvd. The office is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is closed on federal holidays.

Clients should also bring bank routing numbers and account numbers to receive refunds via direct deposit and power of attorney if filing on behalf of another person.

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