Tax help ready for military

Cannon Tax Center Director Myra Barnum helps Senior Airman Aaron Tibbits learn to help others with their tax returns. CNJ photo by Darrell Todd Maurina

By Darrell Todd Maurina

If taxes are troubling you, and you’re in the military or retired from the military, people at the Cannon Tax Center want to talk with you.
While the tax center has provided help for a number of years, its director said many who are eligible don’t even know they can come for help.
“We’ve had people ask if we do retirees, and some of them are surprised that this is for them,” said tax center director Myra Barnum.
The Cannon Tax Center also serves members of the National Guard, reservists and their families. Anyone with a military ID card is eligible.
“We estimated we saved taxpayers $280,000 in filing fees and tax preparation fees,” Barnum said. “(Service members) give up so much of themselves already, and this is something they don’t have to worry about. They know they have a resource to help them.”
The office helped prepare nearly 1,800 federal returns and more than 2,500 state returns last year, using volunteers trained with a program that military attorney Capt. Robert Watkins said was created by the Internal Revenue Service to train tax preparers. Watkins helps out, answering some of the more complicated questions.
“We just want to get the word out that we are available, we are here, and we are free,” Watkins said.
Beginning today, the volunteer staff will accept appointments for tax preparation at their new office in Building 600 Room 1092.
Those wishing to make an appointment may contact the Cannon Tax Center at 784-7304. The center also takes walk-ins from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursdays. Walk-ins can only have the 1040EZ form prepared for them.
At Cannon, the volunteer tax preparers are excused from their regular military duties so they can devote their full energies to tax preparation for two periods of six weeks each. Volunteers are recruited with the assistance of the military chain of command, Barnum said.
“What we do is we go out to the group commanders and ask if we have anyone who would like to volunteer,” she said. “Once we compile the list of volunteers, the IRS comes in and teaches them in a one-week course.”
One of those volunteers, Senior Airman Aaron Tibbits of the 27th Communications Squadron, said he enjoys the opportunity to help give back some of the help he’s received.
“Last year I used this service while I was in Germany,” Tibbits said. “I kind of like working here, and I’d be willing to volunteer after hours even if I didn’t have the time off.”