“Who celebrates tax season,” Col. Jason Wesbrock, commander of U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood, asked Tuesday morning as he prepared to cut the ribbon at the Fort Hood Tax Center, marking its official grand opening for the 2020 tax season.
More than 100 people attended the official opening, celebrating the hard work of the 43 Soldiers who completed the extensive two-week training to become certified tax professionals.
“It’s been two weeks of just non-stop training,” Capt. Gabrielle Bloodshaw, the officer-in-charge of the FHTC, said. “They seem excited and when we left on Thursday (for the long weekend), they knew coming back today was going to be a big day.”
Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer King, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the FHTC, explained the training consisted on one week of classroom training and one week of hands-on training, doing practice tax returns. King said she has enjoyed seeing the confidence in the Soldiers as they learn their new skill.
“While you’re doing this, you’re gonna learn a skill that will stay with you for the rest of your life,” Wesbrock said. “This is about readiness and resiliency and making sure that Soldiers – your fellow Soldiers – have done what they’re required to do by preparing their taxes and that’s one less burden they have to think about as they train for deployment.”
The FHTC prepares returns for more than 4,000 Soldiers, retirees and family members annually. While normal tax professionals are certified in basic or advanced tax preparation, the Fort Hood volunteers are also certified in military tax preparation. Military tax preparation has specific issues, such as rental property or non-taxable deployment pay, which requires special attention.
Tax returns will be filed electronically, allowing clients faster access to their tax return money. Bloodshaw said only rare circumstances would cause a return to be sent via regular mail.
In 2019, the FHTC prepared 4,303 federal returns and 420 state returns, with the Army’s lowest error rate at 3.2%. One of Bloodshaw’s goals is to reduce that error rate even further.
“We want to do as many tax returns as we can, but we want to make sure the quality is there,” she said. “I’m more focused on quality over quantity.”
To ensure everything goes smoothly, clients need to bring with them a copy of their military identification, Social Security card for every family member, all income documents, such as W2s, 1099s, interest income from banking, miscellaneous income, child care expense receipts, college 1098-Ts and a copy of last year’s tax return, as well as any other documents relating to taxes.
Tax returns will be completed by appointment only and it is advised to have it done sooner, rather than later. Appointments can be made by calling 254-288-7995 or 254-287-3294. The tax center is located in Bldg. 13, on 52nd St. (west of III Corps Headquarters). Services are available to active duty Soldiers, families and retirees.
Hours of operation are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Wednesday and Friday. Extended hours will be from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. The tax center will be closed on weekends, all federal holidays and III Corps training holidays. The final day to file taxes through the FHTC is April 15.
After thanking the Soldiers for volunteering this tax season, Wesbrock concluded the ribbon cutting by joking, “I’m gonna wish you guys many happy returns.”