MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. (Jan. 23, 2018) – “In case you didn’t know, from now on, until the day you die, you are going to do your tax return once a year. Like it or not, you might as well know how your tax return will be done,” explained Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Tax Center Coordinator Erlinda Knight.
The MCAS Yuma VITA Tax Center opened for business, once again, January 17, 2018. It has many benefits that apply to service members, Department of Defense employees, and their families at MCAS Yuma. The tax center works hard to ensure their team is fully qualified so that clients receive quality assistance.
The tax center offers free tax preparation to all service members, Department of Defense employees, and family members at MCAS Yuma. The first four weeks after the tax center opens is dedicated to service members from E-1 to E-5.
Knight believes the Marines and Sailors in those pay grades do not have a complete understanding of the tax return process. And, for some, it could be their first time preparing taxes.
Knight states that these inexperienced service members are more likely to have their taxes done incorrectly or prone to scams.
“If I can catch you guys before you go somewhere else, I can prepare your taxes without you paying me, without getting conjured to get a loan, to buy a car you don’t need, and just to keep you away from people like that,” explained Knight. “It makes me feel like I did a good service.”
Aside from preparing and explaining to service members how taxes are done, Knight also chooses a team of five different service members every year to allow them the opportunity to learn and understand how to prepare taxes on their own.
Service members who are interested in volunteering as a tax preparer reach out to Mrs. Knight. She then conducts an interview and chooses five service members she feels has the potential to learn. The candidates are then trained and required to take a test to be certified through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
“We have not been doing this for 30 years like Mrs. Knight, but we’ve been working our butts off to learn and gain a lot of knowledge to ensure everyone gets the best quality that they can here,” said VITA Tax Center Non-commissioned Officer in Charge Sgt. Rachel Albarran.
The tax center offers many other forms of assistance like assisting with audits, answering tax questions, helping tax issues, informing of military deductions and much more.
“The Marines are not only saving preparation fees, but they’re also achieving the highest tax refund they can,” stated VITA Tax Center Officer in Charge Capt. Charles Whitman. “The Marines are getting cash in their pockets and especially our target range: E-1 to E-5. That’s huge for families! When they see a big tax return at the end of the year; it helps with paying down certain debts, providing food, and utilities for the family. It is a direct combat service support asset to the Marine Corps.”
Whitman believes all eligible personnel should take advantage of the many benefits the tax center offers.
“This should be the number one spot to get taxes done because you’re not going to pay for a service that you don’t have to pay for and you’re going to get the best quality representation. You’re not going to go to somewhere where you don’t know where these people were trained from, you don’t know their foundation of expertise and you’re going to rely on them and pay them to do something with an unknown result,” Whitman explained. “In addition, we see many people come here from other places that prepared their taxes wrong and they ask us to fix them because they know that ultimately we do a good job.”
The Marines and staff at the VITA Tax Center are eager to help their clients at MCAS Yuma. The tax center accepts walk-ins from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday until April 18, 2018, when the IRS will no longer accept tax returns. The tax center will accommodate Marines who are deploying soon or who have complicated taxes and need to schedule an appointment. Appointments can be made by calling (928) 269-3277 and can schedule weekend appointments, if necessary.
“If you want to come to a place where you get free tax preparation and top level advice, you should come to the VITA center,” Whitman said. With a smile, Whitman concluded, “We’re ready to work, so the more people, the better.”