Armed with a staff of 16 Soldiers, five volunteers and two civilian employees, Capt. Connor Bidwill said the tax center is open and ready to tackle personal finances.
“Last year we did about 3,100 federal returns and about 2,800 state returns,” Bidwill said. “We saved (Soldiers) about $800,000 in tax prep fees.”
This season, Bidwill said he expects tax center personnel to file more than 4,000 returns.
Open to all servicemembers, retirees and Family members, the tax center officially opens Jan. 19, with appointments beginning Jan. 23. Bidwill said tax preparation is by appointment only, and it is recommended that taxpayers schedule an appointment up to two weeks in advance.
“We’re already taking calls,” he said.
Bidwill highlighted some important changes in the tax code this year, including important paperwork for divorced parents.
Federal law dictates that custodial parents who divorced after 2008 must sign Form 8332 in order for the noncustodial parent to declare a child as a dependent.
“It’s new so if they don’t come in with it and they have a 2010 divorce decree that says ‘This is my year to claim the children,’ they need this form,” Bidwill said. “We can’t really do anything until (the custodial parent) signs that.”
Bidwill also encouraged clients to come prepared with W-2 and 1099-R forms, social security cards, prior tax returns and banking statements.
“A lot of people don’t realize that your USAA account or checking account might accrue interest. No matter how little it is, it accrues some interest. That is income. A common misconception is that if it’s under a certain amount, I don’t need to report it,” he said. “We always joke that Al Capone, he was caught not for everything else that he did, but for tax evasion.”
While tax center staff is ready to help, Bidwill said clients should wait to schedule appointments until they have all the necessary paperwork.
“As soon as possible is good for a lot of things,” Bidwill said. “However, certain documents won’t come out (until later). … If you come too early, you’re going to have to amend your return and that is going to be a huge mess.”
Taxpayers have until April 17 to file taxes.
“We’re excited,” he said. “It’s an interesting system here.”
A Soldier with the Judge Advocate General’s office, Bidwill said his team is comprised of a variety of specialties.
“We have everyone. We have infantry guys; we have computer guys; we have finance people,” he said.
“It’s a life lesson to learn taxes. … It’s a great opportunity for the Soldiers working here.”