By T. Anthony Bell, Fort Lee Public Affairs

FORT LEE, Va. – Last year, the Fort Lee Tax Assistance Center prepared more than 2,000 federal and 1,600 state tax returns for military community members, netting more than $4 million in reimbursements to filers and saving them more than $800,000 in preparations fees.

The savings will continue this year.

The Tax Center is a free tax preparation service offered to active duty military and their family members as well as military retirees and their families.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the 29th year of operation for the much-valued tax service took place Jan. 27, at its facility located in building 6052, at 1151 Mekong Road.

On hand for the occasion were: Col. Adam W. Butler, garrison commander; Melissa Magowan, deputy to the commander; Col. James D. Levine II, staff judge advocate; Command Sgt. Maj. Vittorio DeSouza, garrison CSM; Walter Stith, senior volunteer; and Capt. LeBuria Johnson, tax center officer in charge.

Butler, participating in his first center opening, said the tax center’s impact is felt far beyond the returns and cost of preparation fees.

“We don’t know how people who come here are going to spend their money, however, it’s safe to say that a good share of that goes back into our surrounding community,” he said during his remarks, noting the center’s economic impact should not be overlooked.

Butler also took a moment to recognize the center’s volunteers, many of whom were present for the ceremony.

“I just want to say to all of you volunteers, ‘Thank you; thank you very much. You are well appreciated.’”

The seven volunteers are the lifeblood of the operation. Many have volunteered their services at the center for more than a decade and are motivated by the notion of giving back. Additional military personnel supplement the center’s staffing needs.

Johnson, in his first stint as the officer in charge, said tax center services should not be taken for granted.

“When people hear ‘free,’ they think ‘you get what you pay for, but here, you get above and beyond that,” he said. “Because we have people like Mr. Stith who has been here 23 years. We also have people who worked for AARP, so not only is it free, but it’s a free, skilled service.”

To improve the operation’s efficiency, Johnson said he urges customers to bring all pertinent documents to include photo-identification cards, last year’s tax return, Social Security cards or photocopies of such, W-2s, form 1099s, receipts for charity donations, rental property documents and powers of attorney.

Also required are mortgage documents and bank account and routing numbers.

For married couples filing jointly, both spouses must be present unless one spouse has a power of attorney. They are required to bring with them all W-2s and 1099s; a copy of last year’s return; proof of account for direct deposit refund; Social Security cards or individual taxpayer identification notices and cards for the filers and their dependents; proof of ID; the total amount of money paid to day care providers and their tax ID number; birth dates for filers and their dependents on the return; proof of foreign status if applying for forms 1095-A, B, or C (Affordable Health Care statements); and copies of income transcripts from the IRS (and state, if applicable).

Bringing all required documents allows preparers to perform their duties in a timely manner and meet appointment times, said Johnson.

“The goal is to handle everything the same day,” he said. “That is our mission.”

The tax center is open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. The last scheduled appointment time is 4 p.m. Walk-ins are accepted but only for form 1040EZ filers.

For details, call (804) 734-5732.

# # #

Fort Lee Soldiers, families and civilian employees began a century of support to the nation in 1917 when Camp Lee was established to train the 80th Division for service during WWI. Today, Fort Lee is the Army’s Home of Sustainment and supports the training, education and development of adaptive Army professionals in fields such as transportation, supply, culinary arts and equipment repair and maintenance. Major organizations on the installation include the Defense Commissary Agency, Defense Contract Management Agency, Combined Arms Support Command, the Army Logistics University, U.S. Army Ordnance School, U.S. Army Quartermaster School and U.S. Army Transportation School. Fort Lee supports nearly 86,000 Soldiers, retirees, veterans, family members and civilian employees and boasts an economic impact of about $2.4 billion per year.