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News > Commentary - Don’t pay money for taxes
Tax Center
In this file photo, Tech. Sgt. Joel Ketchum, (right) Tax Center noncommissioned officer-in-charge, and Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Lordier, 3rd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, review Lordier’s taxes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jack Sanders)
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Don’t pay money for taxes

Posted 2/18/2011   Updated 2/18/2011 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Luke Waack

2/18/2011 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Whether you're dreading and avoiding your tax return this year because you have to pay in, or you expect a return but you're so busy with life and work that the tax return keeps getting put off, or you have absolutely no idea which way it's going to go, it's a good idea to do your tax return as soon as you can.

If you get a return on income tax paid - great. If you have to pay in, it's best to know how much you owe so you can make a payment plan.

I just finished my federal return last night and luckily for me this year, I'll be getting a return. After I finished filing, I was looking at my bank's website (a very common bank for current and former military).

I noticed a survey on the sidebar asking how I planned to do my taxes and how I was going to spend my tax return. I clicked the "use tax software" option.

I only use software because I'm not eligible to use the base tax office. You have to be active-duty military, a dependent of an active-duty Soldier or Airman, a military retiree or a Reserve member on active duty for more than 30 days.

I used the tax office at my duty assignments while I was in the military and it was always a good experience - when I didn't have to pay in, that is.

But I digress; back to my bank's survey.

The survey said 63 percent of users polled reported using tax software.

Twenty-two percent said they would have an accountant do their 2010 tax return.

I think the big reason people use the software is the price.

This year, my software cost was $35. Last year, I used an accountant and paid about $150.

The great thing for active-duty military and many more is, they don't have to pay either price.

Sometimes it's difficult to see how awesome some military benefits are because they aren't exactly how we want them.

Getting free tax service isn't one of them. The tax office provides high-quality customer service for taxes with none of the cost.

Another thing I learned from my bank survey was 42 percent of people polled planned to pay off debt with their tax return.

Twenty-three percent planned to save it and 19 percent said, "What refund?"

I plan to use my return to pay off some debt, but it's a tough choice for me; I really would rather buy a four-wheeler.

But I'm going to do the "right" thing and pay down my debt - the four wheeling will have to wait a little longer.

The tax offices on base are ready and willing to help with your tax return needs.

They are staffed with trained tax preparers who can help you file your taxes in short order, provided you bring all the necessary documents to the office.

Bring your W-2s, Social Security Card and complete records of anything you'd like to deduct or claims you'd like to make on your return.

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