Fort Bliss tax centers officially open
Fort Bliss (U.S. Army) — The Fort Bliss tax centers are open and ready to prepare returns for those eligible for the free service. They will be open until April 15, the deadline for filing taxes.
“The hard work for these Soldiers is just beginning,” said Capt. Joseph Larson, officer-in-charge of the Fort Bliss tax centers, during a grand opening ceremony at the West Fort Bliss Tax Center Friday.
“The upcoming tax season will involve long days and a lot of tax returns to prepare, but having seen what these Soldiers (tax preparers) are capable of, I have no doubt that they will make this tax season another successful one for the Fort Bliss Tax Center,” said Larson.
Maj. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Commander, Command Sgt. Maj. Lance P. Lehr, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Command Sergeant Major, and Col. Karen Carlisle, staff judge advocate, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, gathered with Larson and nearly 30 of the centers’ tax preparers to cut a ribbon and officially begin the tax season at the installation.
The tax centers prepare returns at no charge for active duty service members, activated Reservists and National Guard members, retirees and their dependents, Larson said.
The Soldiers who work at the center come from various units and “just about every MOS (military occupation specialty) in the Army,” Larson said.
All Soldiers received the highest level of Internal Revenue Service certification this year, Larson said, and this is only the third time in the history of the Fort Bliss Tax Center that has happened.
MacFarland said the centers are a great asset to the community and he specifically thanked civilians Maria Bustamante and Valerie Medina for volunteering to prepare taxes at the center.
Last year the Fort Bliss Tax Center processed more than 5,000 tax returns, MacFarland said.
More than $12 million went to the federal government, but tax center patrons kept $1.2 million, MacFarland said.
“I appreciate your help in putting money back in the pockets of our troopers,” MacFarland said. “I just wanted to say thank you for what you’re doing here.”
MacFarland said that although tax centers as they are known today did not exist when he was a second lieutenant stationed at Fort Bliss, he did act as a tax assistance officer then and he is familiar with the challenge of preparing tax returns.
“It’s a very important service, and just make sure someone else checks your own tax return before you turn it in,” MacFarland said. “Don’t be your own adviser.”
Carlisle said one of the most significant aspects of the program is that it is free, but the program provides much more to the military community.
“This is an important program, not just for the Soldiers, who learn great skills and spend two weeks learning how to do tax returns, but also to our retirees, our Soldiers returning from deployment, and our community partners,” Carlisle said.
The East Fort Bliss Tax Center is located at Bldg. 403, across from 1st Armored Division Headquarters, East Fort Bliss, and the West Fort Bliss Tax Center is located at Bldg. 2910 on Cassidy Road, near Stout Gym.
To schedule an appointment, call the Fort Bliss Tax Center at 568-4999.