No Schofield Tax Center planned for 2018

| January 11, 2018 | 3 Comments

Karen A. Iwamoto
Staff Writer

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — There will be no Schofield Barracks Tax Center this year.

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Katie Hu, an Army spouse, waits in line to fill out an application at the Schofield Barracks Tax Center. (Photo by Karen A. Iwamoto, Oahu Publications)

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Their will be no Schofield Barracks Tax Center this year to complete 2017 taxes. (Photo by Karen A. Iwamoto, Oahu Publications)

U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii decided to forgo the free service after determining that the number of free or low-cost do-it-yourself tax sites available to service members, retirees and families outweighed the cost of having Soldiers, who are essential to the Army’s manpower and readiness mission, run the center as volunteers.

“Due to the increased operation tempo that we’re in, it’s become very difficult to find a commander who is willing to let us borrow three or four Soldiers (for the tax center),” said Verndal C.F. Lee, chief of the Schofield Barracks Legal Assistance and Claims Office. “And we would need 30 Soldiers.”

He added that other Army installations are facing similar challenges, with fewer making allowances for “borrowed military manpower,” or special duty military personnel performing work outside their military scope.

“We’re at the forefront and being proactive by doing this now,” Lee added.

He pointed out, that while the Schofield Barracks Tax Center provided outstanding customer service in previous years – last year, its 31 Soldiers helped approximately 1,000 clients save an estimated $31 million in refunds, with the average refund being $3,427 – changing times have made doing taxes easy even without one-on-one help from tax specialists.

“A lot of tax software break things down step by step,” he said. “If you have access to a computer and wear a uniform, you shouldn’t have a problem getting your taxes done.”

Personnel must complete their own taxes in 2018 or find a tax preparer.

More resources

The USAG-HI’s Installation and Client Services website has answers to service members’ frequently asked tax questions (under the Tax Center tab), including those on combat pay, claiming dependents, casualty income taxes, state tax domicile and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, among other things.

Those who have more complicated legal questions related to their taxes that are not answered on the website may call the Schofield Barracks Legal Assistance and Claims Office to schedule an appointment for a consultation.

Other resources for those seeking tax assistance include the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which offers free services to those who generally make less than $54,000 a year, those with disabilities and those who speak limited English.

The IRS’s Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those over the age of 60, and specializes in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues.

Internal Revenue Service

The Internal Revenue Service provides many resources on its website at https://www.irs.gov.

Beginning Jan. 20, Military OneSource will begin offering its free tax services for military personnel and families, including its MilTax software, which allows users to file online. The software is tailored to the military community and addresses permanent change of station moves, deployments and more. It includes specialized phone support. Military OneSource is a Department of Defense program.

Finally, the Hawaii Army Weekly will be publishing additional tax-related articles in its upcoming issues, including a State Tax Domicile article on Jan. 26 and a Military Spouses Residency Relief Act article on Feb. 2.

Filing deadline

Tax season begins on Jan. 29, when the IRS begins accepting 2017 tax returns. The deadline to file tax returns is April 17, 2018.

April 15, the customary deadline, falls on a Sunday. April 16 is recognized as Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C., and by law, any holiday observed in the District of Columbia is treated as a nationwide holiday for tax filing purposes, according to the IRS.

Points of Contact

For tax-related legal assistance, call the Schofield Barracks Legal Assistance and Claims Office at (808) 655-8607.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Lee Rutledge says:

    Great except all those free tax programs won’t work for my family because I’m a Washington resident which has not state income tax form and my wife pays Hawaii income tax. So no I have to go pay HR Block or someone else to file my taxes.

    • Collins says:

      You might want to try the Marine Corps Base, Kaneohe, HI. They used to have a free tax service located near the on-base housing. It was the same setup like Schofield Barracks, military personnel doing taxes for the military free!

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