Monday, November 20, 2017
Last Updated: Monday, November 06, 2017
 

Tax Center needs volunteers to help military, retirees, families


By Adrienne Anderson
Staff Writer

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The Fort Belvoir Tax Center needs volunteers to help prepare tax returns for the upcoming tax season. Several regular volunteers are no longer able to help out, so the Tax Center will be understaffed without more volunteers.

All of the tax preparers are volunteers, and they prepare more than 3,000 state and federal tax returns each year. They provide service to active-duty Service members, retirees and their family members.

Without additional help, the center will have to reduce services and the number of people they serve. Customers may also have longer wait times than in previous tax seasons.

However, understaffing can be prevented with help from the community.

“Without these dedicated volunteers, our services are not going to be where they’ve been in the past,” said Ralph Joyner, legal assistance supervisory paralegal in Belvoir’s Staff Judge Advocate Office.

Volunteers don’t need to have a tax preparation background, but do need to be able to commit the hours, Joyner said.

The volunteers they do have, both experienced and new, keep the tax center running.

“Every year, they come ready to hit the ground and ready to go,” Joyner said of the volunteers. “And, it really makes a difference and it’s a great service to our community.”

Charles Nichols and Jim Vance are two volunteers with the Fort Belvoir Tax Center.

Both have been preparing taxes for themselves and others for many years. They also train new tax-prep volunteers.

“Most people dread doing their own taxes and don’t want to pay a whole bunch of money to have a professional do them,” Vance said, adding it was a rewarding experience to help military families. It also provided educational opportunities for those who do use their services.

“It’s not just the dry transactional preparation of a form. There’s also an educational part of the process,” he said. Each time someone comes to them for assistance on their tax return, they also get tips and advice on how to prepare for the next year. 

Over the past few years, Fort Belvoir has developed a reputation for being an excellent place to get tax returns done, Nichols said. As a result, they see tax-filers from all over the DMV and as far away as Charlottesville, Va.

Even people with no tax preparation experience can get trained and get help when needed. Also, if new volunteers face issues, there are experienced volunteers who can help.

Over time, and with practice, you’ll become more experienced, Vance said.

People who are organized and like dealing with forms and numbers and have time to help during the upcoming tax season are asked to leave a voice mail at 703-805-1057 or email Ralph Joyner, ralph.d.joyner.civ@mail.mil.



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