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Finance -- Question & Answer Listing  
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Question / Answer

Question:
Can I get my taxes prepared for free on post?

Answer:
All Active Duty (AD) service members and their family members are eligible to use the Tax Assistance services on post. Reserve Component (RC) Soldiers, DoD and DA Civilian Employees, Retired AD and RC Soldiers (drawing retirement pay), and some Civilian Contractors supporting the DoD/Army overseas (and family members) are also eligible to receive tax assistance. However, there are some restrictions. Contact your military community legal office for specifics. In general, legal assistance on real and personal property tax issues and on the preparation of Federal and State income tax returns is provided. Legal assistance may be provided on estate, inheritance and gift tax matters, electronic filing of income tax returns, and appealing tax rulings and other findings based on the availability of expertise and resources.

Question:
How and where can I apply for financial assistance for college?

Answer:
There are a number of sources that offer financial assistance for college, from scholarships, to Federal grants and loans, to work-study programs. The G.I. Montgomery Bill outlines education assistance benefits to military personnel and veterans. Visit the Army Education Center in your community who have counselors who can assist you with military-related resources for education assistance or you can contact the financial aid office at the college or university that you wish to attend for more options.

Question:
How can I purchase U.S. Savings Bonds through my military pay system?

Answer:
Active Duty members may purchase savings bonds through allotment deductions and request safekeeping from the Defense Finance and Accounting System (DFAS).

Question:
How do I do my banking online?

Answer:
Not all banks have online banking, but those who do usually have brochures that can explain the specific online services they offer or information on their website that outlines what they offer and how to set up your online access. Accessing your account information online typically requires you to set up a user id and password that is associated with your specific account(s). Once you have established these, you can often view things like your account balance; a listing of your transactions to include any automatic deposits or withdrawals; pay bills online; transfer money between different accounts; and apply for loans and other services. Contact your specific financial institution for more information.

Question:
How do I know if I am eligible to receive welfare and if I am, how do I apply for it?

Answer:
Welfare eligibility depends on a number of things such as: income, number of dependents, city/county/state, health, etc. Check with your local county Welfare Administration offices for more information on the specifics application process in your location.

Question:
How do I set up direct deposit of my pay into my bank account?

Answer:
To sign up for Direct Deposit of your paycheck, retirement check, government check, or other recurring electronic funds deposit to your bank account, you will need to complete a Direct Deposit Authorization Form that includes your name, Social Security Number, and specific bank information (account routing numbers, bank address, etc.) and submit it to your employer for processing. Attaching a voided check or deposit slip can often be helpful. It usually takes a paycheck or two before the automatic deposits begin, so follow-up with your financial institution.

Question:
How safe is it to provide financial information (such as my credit card number) on-line or over the telephone?

Answer:
There is always a certain measure of risk when you provide financial information (such as your credit card number) on-line or over the telephone. To minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud, do not give out personal your information to others unless you have a reason to trust them. If making an online purchase or banking transaction, make sure the site you are using is secure. In other words, make sure that the website uses some method of encryption to transfer data across the Internet. One way to tell that a site is secure is by noting that the URL (Web address) begins with "https://" rather than just "http://" and by looking for a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen, usually in the lower right corner of your browser.

Question:
What are the advantages and disadvantages of automated teller machine cards, check cards, debit cards, banking on-line, and on-line bill payment?

Answer:
The obvious advantage is convenience. The disadvantage is that you must remember, for example with ATM and debit card transactions, to record them so your account can be balanced properly. Additionally, there are security issues to be aware of when using some of these banking features. Safeguard your user IDs, passwords, and personal identification numbers (PINs) to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud.

Question:
What are the eligibility requirements for acquiring a business loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA)?

Answer:
The U.S. Small Business Administration has several business loan programs that offer financing to start-up and existing small businesses, not-for-profit child-care centers and other commercial organizations needing small-scale financing. Loan proceeds can be used to acquire real estate, machinery, furniture and fixtures and other resources needed to get a small business up and running or expanded. Consult with the SBA District Office in your region for more information or visit their website.

Question:
What does "reconciling my financial statement" (or balancing my checkbook) mean and how do I do it?

Answer:
Reconciling your financial statement (or balancing your checkbook) refers to verifying that your records (your checkbook register) match the bank's records, as shown on your monthly bank statement. For example, you will need to review your statement to see which checks have cleared and which haven't; ensure that any deposits, automatic withdrawals, and debit card/ATM transactions are recorded. Your financial institution may be able to provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to balance your checkbook or you can visit the Financial Readiness office at in the Army Community Service (ACS) center for assistance. There are many financial planning resources available online that can also provide information on reconciling bank statements such as http://financialplan.about.com/.
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