NEWS | Jan. 26, 2017

Base Tax Center transitions to online, self-help system

By Staff Sgt. William Haston, NCOIC, Civil Law Division 628th Air Base Wing Legal Office

 

This year, the Joint Base Charleston Tax Center will be making the transition to the 21st century, adapting to current technology while still focusing on direct assistance to those most in need. The Air Base and Weapon Station Legal Offices have prepared a detailed guide for using Military OneSource’s free online software to prepare and file your taxes. 

 

The Joint Base Charleston Tax Center will open a modified Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA)/Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program beginning on 13 February, 2017 for Airmen, their dependents, and retirees who have an adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $50,000.

A VITA/TCE representative will be at the Airman and Family Readiness Center (A&FRC) two days a week to assist with the self-help tax preparation through Military OneSource for active duty, dependents and recent (within last six months) retirees. IRS Free File will be the primary program used to facilitate tax preparation for those members that have been retired for longer than six months.

 

There will also be limited appointments at the Air Base Legal with a volunteer tax preparer for those with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $50,000 who are not able to use Military OneSource, who do not have access to a computer or ability to file through other online providers, or who have other special needs requiring one-on-one assistance. Those appointments will be offered twice a week. For those wishing to use the self-service kiosks at the A&FRC, or need more detailed assistance, please contact the Joint Base Legal Office at 843-963-5502 for more information.

 

With self-help, online tax preparation and filing becoming easier and easier every year, this transition makes sense for the vast majority of those who traditionally receive full tax assistance from the VITA/TCE programs. There are now a plethora of options to gain access to free tax preparation software. There are also a number of ways to receive free in-person tax preparation assistance. Unless there is a requirement to file a paper return, e-filing with the IRS is the preferred method. This will drastically speed up the turnaround time on getting the refund or the dreaded tax bill. There are several options listed below for both doing-it-yourself and having your taxes prepared by someone else. This list is in no way an endorsement by the Department of Defense or any of its components.

 

IRS Free File – This service is available to those who are planning to e-file and have an income below $64,000 AGI. This service is at www.irs.gov/freefile.

 

TurboTax Absolute Zero – This service provides free online software for those who are planning to e-file both federal and state returns and have an AGI of less than $100,000.  It should be noted that those who are planning to itemize deductions, report 1099 or business income, or other complex situations will be directed to purchase software.  This service is at www.turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/online/free.

 

H&R Block More Zero – Like TurboTax Absolute Zero, this program will provide free software for those who are planning to e-file. There is no AGI limit for this software; however, for those with more complicated returns, you will be directed to either purchase software or setup and appointment with an H&R Block representative. This service is at https://www.hrblock.com/lp/fy17/more-zero.html.

 

Trident United Way – Residents of Berkeley and Dorchester Counties who have an AGI of less than $95,000 for a married couple filing jointly or $65,000 for a single person can visit the Trident United Way’s website at www.tuw.org/freetaxes to seek assistance from a trained volunteer tax preparer at the Prosperity Centers.

 

Credit Karma – This service is offered through an ad-supported website that is best known for providing users with credit score information. There is no income limit. Currently Credit Karma has started signing up clients but has not posted a date for individuals to start submitting tax returns. This service is at https://www.creditkarma.com/tax.

 

Joint Base Charleston is not the only VITA/TCE center in the area. Others can be located by checking the website, www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-you-by-volunteers, or by calling 1-888-227-7669. Remember Tax Day is 18 April this year.  If you have questions, please call the Joint Base Legal Office at 843-963-5502.