Free income tax preparation available at APG

The 2017 APG Installation Tax Program provides free tax assistance each year to qualifying active duty service members, retirees, and family members. | APG News file photo

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – The 2017 APG Installation Tax Program is a joint effort of the Client Services Division, or CSD, Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program of the Internal Revenue Service.

Directed by the CSD, the program provides free tax assistance each year to qualifying active duty service members, retirees, and family members. Active duty service members are those military members currently holding an active duty ID card. Reserve component service members who are not mobilized more than 30 days are not eligible for services and should contact their individual units for assistance.

What you should know about this season’s tax services

Tax services will be provided by two CSD staff members on a part-time basis. Tax preparation will be offered on an appointment basis only for simple tax returns and will require a two-visit process: first visit— document review; second visit— tax preparation. During the first visit, CSD staff will perform a review of the taxpayer’s individual tax documents to determine eligibility for service. If eligible, the taxpayer will be provided with a scheduled appointment to return for tax preparation at a later date. Ineligible clients will be referred to other professional tax agencies.

Active duty members

A walk-in service for simple tax preparation will be available for active duty members only beginning Jan. 30. Tax return preparation determined by CSD staff to be too time consuming for walk-in service or during high volume demand will be provided with a scheduled appointment.

Document review

Document review will be available beginning Feb. 6 until appointments are no longer available. Individuals eligible for simple tax preparation will be required to visit the CSD office located in Bldg. 4305, third floor, room 317, Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to noon. only, for a complete review of the individual’s tax documents. Tax preparation will not be provided at the time of the document review or without a scheduled appointment.

Appointments

Appointments for tax preparation will be scheduled through April 13 which will conclude tax preparation for the season. Appointments will be made on a first come, first-scheduled basis until no appointments are available. Appointments will not be scheduled over the phone.

Be prepared prior to arrival

Tax personnel cannot prepare an accurate return unless the taxpayer brings all necessary documentation. Inaccurate tax returns caused by incomplete/faulty information may incur IRS penalty and interest assessments. Documents needed depend on each individual situation. Prior to receiving tax services, individuals must first complete a series of required documents which are extremely helpful in gathering the information necessary to file an accurate federal and state tax return. These documents can be accessed online, or picked up at the CSD office.

Simple tax preparation defined

Most individuals who have simple returns with only the following sources of income will be eligible for service: wages, pension, interest and dividend, unemployment compensation, student loan interest, and social security payments, child and dependent care expenses, and some itemized deductions on Schedule A may also be eligible.

Excessive deductions or schedules and forms will not be eligible due to length in preparation and limited appointment times. Services will include free electronic filing on eligible tax returns; however, CSD staff must prepare the tax return in order to electronically file the tax return. Electronic filing enables taxpayers to receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file with direct deposit into their bank account rather than having it mailed.

Limited assistance with state income tax preparation

Staff members will provide federal and Maryland tax assistance. They will only provide limited assistance with local and state tax returns from other state jurisdictions.

Individuals residing in one state while working in another or individuals requiring the preparation of multi-state returns may receive assistance with preparation of the federal return; however, due to the complexity, assistance may not be available for preparation of the multi-state returns.

Free Maryland state tax assistance is available in person at any of the agency’s 12 taxpayer service offices or by calling 1-800-638-2937. A list of office locations can be found online.

Obtaining W2s and Forms 1095 online

Defense Finance and Accounting Service myPay is a secure, DFAS-operated Web site that lets active duty, National Guard and Reserve military members, civilian employees, and military retirees and annuitants take charge of their pay accounts online. Soldiers and civilians can access their 2016 tax statements on myPay.

Other free resources available

Individuals ineligible to receive services provided by the CSD, or those whose schedules do not permit a two-visit process or those in need of a speedy refund, should consider contacting our local AARP Tax Aide Office, also sponsored by IRS VITA, at 410-638-3425.

During the tax season, AARP operates seven sites throughout Harford County and its services are provided by appointment only on a first come – first scheduled basis until no appointments are available.

Those individuals in need of tax preparation assistance by appointment may also contact other nearby military installations, such as Ft. Meade at 301-677-9536/9504 and Dover AFB at 302-677-3300.

Tax savvy individuals can access Military One Source and IRS Free File to take advantage of various free online self-preparation programs. Seventy percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File; commercial partners of the IRS offer free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $64,000 or less. An extensive Income Tax Provider List is also available on the CSD Tax Services website for referral to other tax resources.

General information

Inquiries regarding income tax services may be directed to the CSD staff attendant at 410-278-1583.

Calls after normal operating hours, Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., or received when the attendant is assisting other clients will be directed to the automated information line. On touchtone phones press number 3 for the Client Services Division then number 6 for income tax preparation information.

The office is closed for federal holidays and inclement weather.

By the APG Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Client Services Division