Bliss Monitor - Feb 2009
Volunteer ensures Soldiers receive all tax
Wilson A. Rivera, Monitor Staff
Servicemembers, spouses, retirees and dependents may have had puzzled looks on their faces as the received informative tax flyers from Fort Bliss Tax Center volunteers Friday, but tax season is once again here.
At every entrance and passageway at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service mini mall and food court area, military volunteers passed out reminders about taxes. April 15 is the deadline to file taxes or file for an extension.
“Have you thought about your taxes?” a Soldier was asked by Spc. Michael D. Kahl, a tax center volunteer.
“I volunteered to help people,” Kahl said. “Taxes can be a lot of money if you don’t know much about it. It can be very important depending on your situation.”
The flyers included information about the Internal Revenue Service’s earned-income tax credit and other military-specific information. EITC is one of many credits available to Soldiers filing their claims.
“[EITC] is basically for people who work but don’t make a lot of money, so especially people who have children and singles also fall into this category, depending on each individuals basis,” said Capt. Rick B. Mathew, tax center officer in charge.
EITC is a fully refundable credit for low-wage workers and low-income working families. It is estimated that 20 percent to 25 percent of those eligible for the credit fail to claim it on their return. This credit averages around $2,700.
“When they’re doing their taxes, they finally realize they qualify for this and that’s why they aren’t getting that money,” said Mathew. “Why? It’s a shame, because people who need it the most are failing to get it.”
Military members are benefitted by EITC, as any portion of their income that is nontaxable does not count toward pushing them out of the range for the EITC, and many Soldiers with at least one child qualify. Soldiers who have tax-exempt combat pay can still elect to include that combat pay. It can be used to make them eligible for money back, Mathew said.
“[EITC] is out here, so we’re just promoting that, and also promoting the free tax service provided at the tax center,” said Maria E. Bustamante, tax consultant.
The Fort Bliss Tax Center services are free to active-duty servicemembers, retirees and their dependents. The center has partnered with the IRS for 20 years to train its staff in assisting individuals with their claims.
“Some reasons that some people don’t claim [EITC] is because they might have somebody that is not aware of the tax laws,” said Ricardo Soto, IRS region manager.
Items to bring when filing taxes include military identification cards, wage statements, homeowner’s interest statements and anything that may be relevant to taxes, said Mathew.
“The federal government has been doing a pretty good job with keeping in step with what’s going on in the economy,” he said. “This year, taxes have a lot of breaks and incentives for homeowners because of the foreclosure crisis.”