Marines offer quick, easy tax services[MIGRATE]

By Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso | February 05, 2010

Photos
Lance Cpl. Lianny Wolf, legal clerk, explains the tax filing process to a customer Feb. 5 at the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, Headquarters Building, Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii. Personnel with the MarForPac Staff Judge Advocate's Office offer tax filing services Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.  (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso) (Released)

Lance Cpl. Lianny Wolf, legal clerk, explains the tax filing process to a customer Feb. 5 at the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, Headquarters Building, Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii. Personnel with the MarForPac Staff Judge Advocate's Office offer tax filing services Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso) (Released) (Photo by Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso)

There are only two certainties in life … death and taxes.

Taxes being the one that occurs multiple times in a person’s life, officials with Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, and Camp H.M. Smith have assembled tax centers to ensure quick and easy tax filing for service members and their families.

The 2010 tax season began Jan. 1 and continues until April 15, but many service members are entitled to additional time to file their taxes, according to Nanette Asam, the Staff Judge Advocate Office’s, U.S. Marine Corps Force’s, Pacific, legal technician.

Service members in a deployed status have 180 days from the day they leave the U.S. to file their taxes. Those stationed overseas have until June 15 to file, but if they owe money to the Internal Revenue Service, an interest fee will apply to taxes paid after April 15. Service members in combat zones do not pay the penalty.

To help ensure quick and easy tax filing, filers must have their I.D. card, social security card, W-2, bank interest statements (1099 INT), dividend statements (1099 DIV), bank routing number and account number. Home owners must also bring their mortgage interest statements (1098 MIS).

Service members claiming spouses and / or children should bring applicable documentation, according to Asam.

“It would really help if they have their education paperwork,” said Lance Cpl. Lianny Wolf, MarForPac legal clerk. “Most people forget to bring it and when they finally do, they end up having to amend their taxes and it’s just a big hassle for the filer.

“It’s also a lot smoother if they bring their spouse with them, that way they don’t have to take the paper work home for their spouse to sign and then bring it back in.”

Due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, single filers can expect a return between $400 and $1,000, on average.

But a large tax return isn’t necessarily a positive for some filers.

“If you’re getting a big refund, you’re giving Uncle Sam a free loan,” Asam said.

When filers claim zero dependants, the IRS takes more money out of their paychecks throughout the year. The money is eventually returned, but in the mean-time, the government gains interest off the filers earnings, instead of the filer.

“The smart money management option is claim yourself on your taxes,” Asam said. “You’ll get more from your paychecks, but you’ll get less from your return. It’s a personal decision we all have to make based on how well we manage our money.”

Another consideration is whether or not the filer has to pay state taxes. The 2009 Military Spouses Residency Relief Act protects military spouses who earn wages in Hawaii up to an extent. Spouses do not have to pay state taxes if they work for an employer, but those that own a business have to pay Hawaii State taxes, according to state law.

Those interested in filing on Camp Smith can contact the SJA Office at (808) 477-8505, to set up an appointment. Those who wish to file on K-Bay can contact the K-Bay Tax Center at (808) 257-2791.