Officials with Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, and Camp H. M. Smith recently began this year’s tax services to ensure quick and easy tax filing for service members and their families.
The 2011 tax season began Jan. 24 and continues until April 18, but many service members are entitled to additional time to file their taxes, according to Nanette Asam, paralegal specialist for U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific’s Staff Judge Advocate Office.
Service members in a deployed status have 180 days from the day they leave a combat zone, or the last day of hospitalization for combat-injured service members, 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 18. Service members in combat zones do not pay the penalty.
To help expedite 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.
“I recommend they bring their spouse to file their taxes,” Asam said in regard to filing jointly. “But if they don’t, they will have to take their forms home and return them signed by their spouse before we can process it.”
Due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, single filers can expect a return between $400 and $1,000 on average, Asam said.
But a large tax return isn’t necessarily a positive for some, she said.
“If you’re getting a big refund, you’re giving Uncle Sam a free loan,” Asam said.
When taxpayers claim zero dependants, the IRS takes more money out of their paychecks throughout the year. The money is eventually returned, but in the meantime, the government gains interest off their earnings, instead of the taxpayer.
“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 in most circumstances. Spouses do not have to pay Hawaii state taxes if they work for an employer and they share the same residency as their service member. Those who own a business must pay Hawaii state taxes, according to state law.
Asam also said certain electronic tax filings cannot be processed until Feb. 14 due to a delay with last year’s tax filing nationwide. But those interested in preparing their taxes early can be assured they will be filed as soon as the IRS begins accepting all electronic filings.
Those interested in filing at Camp Smith can contact the SJA Office at (808) 477-8705 to set up an appointment. Those who wish to file on K-Bay can contact the K-Bay Tax Center at (808) 257-2791.
“We strive to make tax preparation a positive experience,” Asam said. “So come on down.”