Tax center opens

| January 20, 2012 | 0 Comments
Maj. Gen. Roger Matthews (left), deputy commander, USARPAC, tells Capt. Amy Dewitt, JA, USAG-HI, and OIC, Hawaii Army Tax Center at Schofield Barracks, how impressed he is with the center’s staff and appearance, during its grand opening ceremony, Tuesday. (Vanessa Lynch | Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

Maj. Gen. Roger Matthews (left), deputy commander, USARPAC, tells Capt. Amy Dewitt, JA, USAG-HI, and OIC, Hawaii Army Tax Center at Schofield Barracks, how impressed he is with the center’s staff and appearance, during its grand opening ceremony, Tuesday. (Vanessa Lynch | Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

Rochelle Smolinski
Contributing Writer

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — It’s that time of year again.

With the new year underway and tax forms trickling in, the process of filing taxes for 2011 has begun.

But no one has to grind all that paperwork alone.

While commercial tax centers require a fee for services rendered, the Hawaii-Army Tax Centers, here and at Fort Shafter, provide a free income tax filing service for all service members, their family members and retirees.

The tax center held a grand opening

ceremony, here, Tuesday, and is now open to ranks E4 and below, Jan. 23-25, and will open its doors to everyone Jan. 25.

“You need to have a genuine skill set to be able to do this job and you certainly would not want Roger Matthews filing your taxes,” said Maj. Gen. Roger Matthews, deputy commander, U.S. Army-Pacific, during his remarks at the center’s grand opening. “These Soldiers are taking time away from their units to provide this invaluable service to our community, and they are doing important work at the tax center.”

This year, the tax centers will be by appointment only due to long wait times experienced by filers last year.

“When I heard the wait times exceeded more than four hours last year, something had to be done,” said Capt. Amy Dewitt, judge advocate, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii and officer in charge, Hawaii Army Tax Center at Schofield Barracks. “That is far too long to wait, which is why we are by appointment only this year.”

To make tax filing even easier, the Hawaii Army Tax Centers will now accept and complete dropped off 1040-EZ forms, email the completed forms for review, then file the forms after the filers authorizes them.

Free, professional tax advising saves money, and the staff wants to save even more for their filers. The team set a new record last year by filing more than 3,500 tax returns, totaling more than $9 million in refunds, up 1,000 returns and more than one million dollars from the previous fiscal year.

“I was just amazed at the cost avoidance to our families last year,” Matthews said. “The military is a great lifestyle because we take care of one another.”

Dewitt said she hopes to exceed last year’s figures, adding that the tax center’s 23 staff members can file eight returns per hour.

The tax center staff asks that individuals bring all the following required documents:

  • Military ID cards and social security cards for family members.
  • Bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of tax refunds.
  • Pay or income stubs received for 2011.

All forms of income must be reported. Spouses will need to show a form of ID that lists their social security number.

Spouses filing “Married Filing Jointly” will need to bring a power of attorney, signed by the unavailable spouse, who should allow the spouse to sign the return on his or her behalf.

While Form 2848, “Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative,” can be downloaded at www.irs.gov, a clause allowing a spouse to file taxes is oftentimes included in special powers of attorney for deploying Soldiers.

For a complete list of what tax documents to bring and updated wait times for walk-ins, visit www.Facebook.com and search for “Hawaii Army Tax Centers.”

The Hawaii Army Tax Center, here, is open to all ranks, family members and retirees for free assistance in organizing and completing 2011 income tax forms, on an appointment-only basis, 7 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday, through April 29, at Building 648, next to the Sgt. Smith Theater.

The Hawaii Army Tax Center at Fort Shafter is located in the Aloha Center, and its hours are 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Soldiers, family members and retirees can schedule their appointments for either location by calling 655-1040.

(Editor’s Note: Vanessa Lynch, news editor, contributed to the content of this article.)

Important Tax Documents

Military, family members and retirees must bring the following forms, as applicable, to file their tax returns:

  • Form W2, Wage and Tax Statement, showing wages.
  • Form 1099-INT, Interest Income, showing interest earned from bank accounts.
  • Form 1099-DIV, Dividends and Distributions, showing dividend income.
  • Form 1099-B, Proceeds From Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions, showing capital gains.
  • Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, showing rental income received during the year.

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