• September 16, 2014

Tax center helps soldiers save millions

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Posted: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 4:30 am

As tax season ended, the Fort Hood Tax Center submitted more than 3,500 federal tax returns.

“The millions of dollars that we’re able to get back for our clients in refunds is a big success,” said Capt. Michael Lyness, the tax center officer in charge.

“So, not only are we saving them money for preparation fees, the amount of money we’re putting back in their pockets for the amount of refunds is a big success.”

By utilizing soldiers who are familiar with base pay, combat pay, taxable income, and other forms of payment, the tax center made it possible for soldiers to save $350 in preparation fees.

Even with all of the benefits the tax center provides, some soldiers still come across pitfalls when filing tax returns.

Some of the hurdles come from issues with power of attorney and allowing the tax center an efficient amount of time to complete the tax return.

The type of power of attorney plays an important role when a soldier is down range, Lyness said. If the power of attorney is insufficient, getting in touch with the soldier becomes difficult for the tax center if his or her spouse is getting the soldier’s taxes filed.

Although many paralegals at brigades handle power of attorney documents for soldiers, their templates are different than the one’s produced at legal assistance.

“It’s a variation of the power of attorneys being produced from the civilian side to the military side, and it’s creating a wide range of power of attorneys that may be insufficient by IRS standards,” Lyness said.

Another pitfall is simply not allowing the tax center enough time to process the returns, and with 90 to 180 clients a day, two hours may not be enough time to effectively go through a soldier’s paperwork.

“Early on in the tax season it’s a madhouse here,” Lyness said. “In March we slow down a little bit, but the returns start to get a little more complicated though. So you’re balancing two different things, how complicated the return is and how much time the soldier has allocated to get the tax return done.”

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