“The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax.” — Albert Einstein
Karen A. Iwamoto
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — If filing your income taxes has you searching for guidance, you’re not alone. Even the man whose name is synonymous with genius had trouble wrapping his mind around it.
Fortunately, the Schofield Barracks Tax Center is here to answer questions and to help the Army community in Hawaii file on time.
The center, which opened on Feb. 6, is staffed by 28 tax preparers from various Army units in Hawaii, all of whom received three weeks of formal training. This instruction included one week of Voluntary Income Tax Assistance Training, one week of Tax Law from the Office of the Judge Advocate General, and one week of state-specific training.
“The most challenging aspect was training yourself to become a resident expert,” said Capt. Courtney Plante, officer in charge of the center. “People will have questions and the buck stops with you.”
But judging from the line of clients who arrived half-an-hour before the center opened its doors on Feb. 7, the service is in high demand.
“Most of our clients have come here before, so they’re familiar with our services,” said Plante. “They’re chomping at the bit to get going.”
Last year, the center prepared 1,395 federal tax returns and 1,108 state tax returns, she said. It saved clients $366,331 in tax fees and got them $4,272,585 in tax refunds.
All of the Soldier tax preparers are qualified to file state income taxes in all 50 states and can answer questions about the Military Spouse Residency Act, a complicated law that affects spouses who earned income in a state other than their legal residence. They can also help clients determine which tax credits they qualify for and what they can deduct.
Plante said the most common deduction for active duty service members is for moving expenses. However, many clients may also be able to deduct child care expenses and qualify for tax credits if they or their family members are attending an institution of higher education.
However, there are a few things that are out of the center’s scope. If you receive income from more than one rental property or are self-employed and running your own business, the center is not equipped to prepare your taxes.
Because not all individuals who fill out a Schedule C or who have a 1099 fall into the self-employed category, it’s best to call the center to find out whether you qualify for its service.
Still, for those who want help with their taxes, so they can get on with other important aspects of their lives, the center offers a convenient service.
“I think we’re doing a lot of good work for the community here,” Plante said. “I have a good group of Soldiers. They’re enthusiastic, they’re motivated, they’re here on time every day and they ask good questions.”
The deadline to file 2016 taxes is April 18 because April 15 falls on a Saturday and the following Monday is a holiday in Washington, D.C.
The tax center’s services are free for active duty service members, their families, retirees and Department of Defense cardholders.
Schofield Tax Center
The center is located at Trailer 1 on Grimes Street on Schofield Barracks. To schedule an appointment, call 655-1040.
Hours of Operation
Feb. 6-March 25
- Monday-Wednesday & Friday, 10 a.m.-noon & 1-4 p.m.
- Thursday, 1-4 p.m.
- Saturday, 10 a.m.-noon ¶ 1-3 p.m.
March 27-April 15
- Monday, Friday, 10 a.m.-noon & 1-6:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, Wednesday, 1-6:30 p.m.
- Thursday, 1-5 p.m.
- Saturday, 10 a.m.-noon & 1-3:30 p.m.
Walk-ins are accepted on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Here’s what to bring to your appointment:
- Proof of identification.
- Social security cards for you, your spouse and your dependents (individual taxpayer identification numbers, or ITNs, may be substituted).
- Proof of foreign status if applying for an ITN.
- Birthdates for you, your spouse and your dependents.
- Wage and earning statements (W-2, 1099, etc.) from all employers.
- Interest and dividends from banks (Forms 1099).
- All forms 1095, health insurance statements.
- Health insurance exemption statement if received.
- Original and copy of last year’s income tax returns, if available.
- Proof of bank account and routing number for direct deposit.
- To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses need to be present to sign.
- Total paid to day care provider and the day care provider’s tax identification number, such as their SSN or business employer identification number.
The IRS has compiled an Armed Forces’ Tax Guide to help in preparing 2016 tax returns. It can be viewed in PDF format at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p3.pdf.