Joint Installation Tax Center ready for business

(From left:) Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Brian S. Cullen, Shaida Farid, officer in charge of the Tax Center, Lt. Col. Tyesha Smith, staff judge advocate, and Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard cut the cake during the ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, marking the upcoming opening of the Joint Installation Tax Center. (Photos by Phil Grout)

The Joint Installation Tax Center marked its upcoming opening in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday at the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate.

Lt. Col. Tyesha Smith, Fort Meade staff judge advocate, and Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard welcomed the small crowd of service members and Department of the Army civilians to the event.

Many of the attendees will volunteer their services as tax preparers for the Fort Meade community.

“We are really looking forward to another great tax year,” Smith said.

The Tax Center will begin serving clients, at no charge, Monday through April 17.

Appointments are recommended and will be available Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Last year, the center saved clients more than $344,948 in filing fees. Clients also received a total of $4,170,850 in tax refunds.

Rickard thanked the staff for volunteering their time to serve the Fort Meade community.

Rickard said that when he was a young Soldier, he attended the military’s tax adviser school and learned to assist military personnel in filing their taxes.

“It was very much appreciated on the other side of the desk,” he said. “You’re helping people out. … You’re doing a great service.”

Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony alongside Shaida Farid, officer in charge of the Tax Center.

After he spoke, Rickard cut the ceremonial ribbon alongside Shaida Farid, the officer in charge of the Tax Center. At the end of the ceremony, Smith, Rickard, Farid and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Brian S. Cullen cut the “Tax Center” cake provided for attendees.

The mission of the tax center is to provide free and accurate tax assistance preparation for all eligible members of the Fort Meade community, said Farid.

The center serves active-duty service members, retirees, National Guardsmen, Reservists and their dependents with an eligible military ID. Reservists must serve 29 consecutive days to use the center.

“The Joint Installation Tax Center has professional staff members who are trained and certified by the Internal Revenue Service,” Smith said.

“They possess specialized expertise in maximizing benefits for service member-specific issues such as those related to combat pay, hazardous duty zones, combat filing extensions and the like — and it’s all free.”

The center’s staff includes Army, Navy and Air Force service members along with civilian employees and volunteers. All volunteers have received Volunteer Income Tax Assistance training conducted by the IRS.

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

Clients must bring their photo ID, Social Security card, income documents including W2 forms, charitable donation receipts, child care expenses, retirement account documentation and any other tax-related paper work.

Editor’s note: To schedule an appointment or for more information, call the Tax Center at 301-677-9366.

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