The tax season will begin 10 days later than planned, thanks to the government shutdown in October, but the Fort Carson Tax Center stands ready to help.
Beginning Tuesday, tax filers can call 526-0730 to make appointments for the week of Jan. 27 through the remainder of the tax season. Free tax preparation and electronic filing services are available for active duty Soldiers and Families, retirees and eligible family members, as well as mobilized reservists and National Guardsmen.
“The nice thing is that you have trained, dedicated Soldiers that are here to help,” said Capt. Robert Lincoln, officer in charge at the Tax Center. “You have people who uniquely understand the tax situations of servicemembers, from people being deployed and coming back, also handling retiree income, as well as military moves.”
The center, building 1358 on Barkley Avenue, will be open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for appointments. Walk-in assistance will not be available.
Soldiers working in the Tax Center have been through IRS training geared toward military taxes.
“Everyone, to prepare tax (returns), has to have passed the IRS certification test,” Lincoln said.
Tax filers should wait until they have their Form W-2 rather than using their last December Leave and Earnings Statement. For active duty, W-2s are expected to be posted to My Pay by Jan. 24. Retiree 110-99R Forms are already available.
In addition, people need to bring military identification cards, Social Security cards or letters from Social Security to verify identify, any necessary powers of attorney and all official documents, such as student loan interest statement, home mortgage interest statement, property tax receipts, proof of child care expenses, charitable contribution receipts and Social Security cards for anyone being claimed as a dependent.
“We want you to have the (Social Security card). That’s how we make sure there’s no identity theft issues,” Lincoln said. “We can match up your ID with your name with your number.”
Spouses of deployed Soldiers can file taxes on behalf of the deployed Soldier, but the spouse needs to have a special power of attorney for taxes, he said.
Soldiers at the Tax Center can handle most situations, but there may be occasions when they refer clients out.
“People who have several property rentals or maybe have substantial income … (may be referred) because it’s a very complicated tax situation to handle, and we don’t want to mess up anybody’s tax returns if they have substantial income because there’s a lot more rules that come into play,” Lincoln said.
The IRS won’t begin processing returns until Jan. 31, 10 days later than planned. The annual process for updating IRS systems was significantly delayed in October following the federal government shutdown. About 90 percent of IRS operations were closed during the shutdown, according to the IRS website.
“The late January opening gives us enough time to get things right with our programming, testing and systems validation. It’s a complex process, and our bottom-line goal is to provide a smooth filing and refund process for the nation’s taxpayers,”
IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel said in an article on the website.
The deadline to file taxes is set by statute and will remain April 15. However, the IRS reminds taxpayers that anyone can request an automatic six-month extension to file a tax return.
The Tax Center will remain open after the deadline.
“We’ll be open a little bit after April to help with any sort of lingering issues that a filer may have,” Lincoln said.
Last year, about 5,000-6,000 people used the free service.