Tax season arrives

Free income tax preparation available at APG

The 2018 APG Installation Tax Program provides free tax assistance each year to qualifying active duty service members, retirees and family members. |Stock photo courtesy of Pixabay

The 2018 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.

Internal Revenue Service

The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on Jan. 29, and the nation’s tax deadline will be Apr. 17– so taxpayers will have two additional days to file beyond Apr. 15.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that, by law, the IRS cannot issue refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-Feb. While the IRS will process those returns when received, the IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts starting Feb. 27, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.

What you should know about this season’s tax services

Tax services will be provided by two CSD staff members. Tax preparation will be offered on an appointment basis only for eligible 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.

Document review

Document review will be available beginning Jan. 29 until appointments are no longer available. Eligible individuals should visit the CSD office located in building 4305, third floor, room 317, Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to noon., 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 Apr. 17 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 your 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 at www.jagcnet.army.mil/APGLA or picked up at the CSD office.

Eligible tax preparation defined

Assistance with excessive depreciation of rental assets or first-year rental properties, loan modifications, cancellation of debt, abandonment of property, proceeds from sales of stocks, and excessive deductions or schedules and forms may not be eligible due to length in preparation and limited appointment times. Eligibility will be determined by the tax advisor upon careful consideration of the individual’s tax documents and based upon length of preparation times as well as the preparer’s level of expertise.

Limited assistance with state income tax preparation

Staff members will provide federal and Maryland tax assistance but 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 at www.marylandtaxes.com.

Free electronic filing

Services will include free electronic filing on eligible federal and state tax returns; however, CSD staff must prepare the tax return 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.

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 2017 tax statements by going to https://mypay.dfas.mil.

Other free resources available

Individuals ineligible to receive services provided by the CSD should consider contacting the 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 301-677-9366/9536.

Tax savvy individuals can access www.militaryonesource.mil and www.irs.gov/freefile 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 $66,000 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, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 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.

Free Tax-Return Preparation

The Flanders Group, in partnership with Habitat Susquehanna, is providing free tax return preparation during the month of February 2018. Preparation is available to anyone who drops off a donation to the Aberdeen ReStore (between January 15th to February 28th) prior to their tax appointment. Please bring your receipt. Tax appointment must be held at the Flanders Group office in the month of February 2018 for the 2017 tax year. Free tax return applies to your personal return (tax returns that include a farm, rental properties or business activities) For more information, visit the Habitat Susquehanna website at https://www.habitatsusq.org/home.

 

By OSJA, Client Services Division