Joint Installation Tax Center opens

Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Brian S. Cullen cut the ribbon Monday to signify the opening of the Tax Center. (Photo by Warrant Officer LaToya Gates)

With tax season underway, the Joint Installation Tax Center is opening its doors and services to the Fort Meade community.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Tax Center was held Jan. 23, 2017.

The Tax Center is accepting limited appointments this week until its full opening Jan. 30, 2017.

Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Brian S. Cullen cut the ribbon at the event that featured a celebratory cake.

During the ceremony, Lt. Col. Tyesha Smith, Fort Meade staff judge advocate, welcomed service members who are volunteering at the Tax Center and briefly spoke about the services provided.

Soundoff! met with Shaida Farid, supervisory tax attorney, to talk about the free services offered by the Tax Center.

“The Joint Installation Tax Center will strive once again to provide timely, knowledgeable, friendly and professional tax preparation advice and assistance to our service members, retirees and their dependents,” Farid said. “We hope all eligible clients in the Fort Meade community take full advantage of this free service.”

The Tax Center functions through the service members and civilians who volunteer their time.

“We have a great crew here with us this season, and they are eager to assist service members,” Farid said. “They’ve been working hard the past two weeks, and we are so thankful they are here because without them we would not be able to run this program.”

Attorney Jane Winand, chief of the Legal Assistance Division, speaks with Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard and Lt. Col. Tyesha Smith, Fort Meade staff judge advocate, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr.)

What does the Tax Center provide and how much does it cost?

The center provides free tax preparation and electronic filing services for federal and state tax returns.

Who is eligible to use the center?

Valid active-duty military ID cardholders, retirees, National Guardsmen, Reservists and their dependents are all eligible to use the center’s services. All must have an eligible ID.

Reservists must serve 29 consecutive days to use the Tax Center.

Are there restrictions on those who can use the Tax Center services?

The center will not assist clients with more than 10 capital asset transactions, have more than one rental property or a privately owned business, or engage in day trading.

Where is the Tax Center located?

The Tax Center is located on post at 4217 Roberts Ave. in the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate.

What is the benefit to using the Tax Center?

In 2016, tax services were provided to over 1,500 service members, dependents and retirees. The Tax Center prepared federal and state income tax returns, saving clients over $693,000 in filing fees and a total refund amount of in excess of $4.6 million.

Who works at the Tax Center?

The center’s staff includes 2 civilian attorneys, 12 full-time borrowed military manpower, 10 civilian part-time volunteers and one military part-time volunteer. There is a civilian temporary hire with a background in taxes making a grand total of approximately 26 Tax Center personnel.

Staff members are trained and certified by the Internal Revenue Service and go through an intensive computer training involving simulated exercises. They also have been trained under the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

What do I need to bring to my appointment?

You must bring your photo ID, Social Security card, any and all W2’s, charitable donation receipts, child care expenses, retirement accounts and any tax-related paper work.

When will the Tax Center be open?

The center will be open through April 18. Appointments are offered Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Walk-ins are available, but appointments are encouraged.

To schedule an appointment or for more information, call the Tax Center at 301-677-9366.

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