Free tax filing help available

Edwards Tax Center volunteer Janet Fitzgerald (right) assists customers in preparing and filing their income tax returns. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Julius Delos Reyes)

Edwards Tax Center volunteer Janet Fitzgerald (right) assists customers in preparing and filing their income tax returns. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Julius Delos Reyes)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Edwards Tax Center is ready to run at full steam as it plans to opens its doors Monday to assist with yearly income-tax returns.

Income tax assistance is available to all active-duty military members, retired military personnel, guard members, reservists, and family members, said Capt. Rachel Cavanna, tax center officer-in-charge.

The tax center is run by the legal office and managed by volunteers.

"The tax center is a service that is available to the Edwards community," Captain Cavanna said. "It is a way for us to give back to the community, assist them in their income tax needs and make their income tax filing easier."

Some of the advantages of using the tax center are it's free and it's convenient; the tax center is located at the Desert Mall, Captain Cavanna said.

The tax center uses electronic filing to ensure the timeliness of returns being sent to the Internal Revenue Service, Captain Cavanna said. The tax refunds that the individual receives will go directly to their bank account in about two to three weeks after filing.

"I think it is a great service for Team Edwards because the volunteers understand the military way of life," said Staff Sgt. Christina Daems, 412th Maintenance Operation Squadron maintenance analyst and a tax center volunteer.

Edwards tax center volunteers are certified for filing returns with the California Franchise Tax and the IRS. This is required for assisting and volunteering at tax centers, Sergeant Daems said.

The volunteers assist and ensure customers have the necessary papers, then the officer-in-charge will check the papers again for assurance and send the tax return to the IRS electronically, Captain Cavanna said.

People need to bring the following items to the tax center to have their returns prepared and filed:

· Military identification card;
· Social security cards for the entire family;
· W-2 forms from all employers;
· Forms 1099 and 1098 or individual retirement account form;
· IRA basis of previous year;
· IRA contribution information;
· Itemized list for child care, charity, medical expenses, costs for professional books and moving expenses;
· Previous year's tax return; and
· A voided check or account with routing number.

"My advice to the community is that they must have proper documentation of their receipts and claims," Captain Cavanna said. "And, they should make appointments as early as possible."

Filing income tax returns early, not only helps the individual, but it also helps the volunteers and the tax center, Captain Cavanna said.

The tax center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. until April 13, which is the last day of tax center operation.

To schedule an appointment for filing this year's tax returns or for any additional information, call the Edwards Tax Center at 275-3829.

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