NEWS | Dec. 28, 2020

JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Military Tax Assistance Center opens Feb. 1

By David DeKunder 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Starting Feb. 1, the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Military Tax Assistance Center, or MTAC, opens its doors to offer free income tax preparation services for military members and retirees.

The MTAC, located in building 133 at 2450 Dragon Valley Road, will be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays and U.S. Army North training days, until April 16, the day after the April 15 tax deadline.

The tax assistance center provides tax preparation services – free of charge – for active duty service members, active duty Reservists, dependents and military retirees and their dependents.

Tax preparation services are provided by Army Soldiers trained through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA. Volunteers who complete the VITA program are certified by the IRS to prepare taxes.

Jesse Bolanos, MTAC director, said tax preparers provide basic income tax return services for clients.

“We will prepare it and we’ll electronically file it for free,” Bolanos said. “Everything is free of charge.”

Bolanos said tax preparation services will be provided with COVID-19 protocols and procedures being put into place to ensure the safety of customers and tax preparers.

First, customers can come to the office by appointment only, as no walk-ins will be accepted. Starting Jan. 25, customers can make an appointment by contacting MTAC at 210-221-1040 or online at fortsamtax.setmore.com.

Customers must wear masks when arriving for their appointment, will be asked questions regarding COVID-19 symptoms and will have to submit to a temperature check.

On the day of their appointment, Bolanos said tax filers need to bring a military ID to verify eligibility, a photo copy of their Social Security card and copies of their W-2 forms or copies of their 1099 or 1098 forms, if necessary.

VITA regulations prohibit tax returns from being prepared unless the tax filer brings a photocopy of the Social Security card for themselves and everyone else who will appear on their tax return, including dependent children and spouse. 

Customers will fill out a sheet and drop-off copies of the necessary tax documents at MTAC. Tax preparers will work on the taxes and when the taxes are done and prepared, the tax filer will be contacted to set up an appointment to come back and go over their taxes, pickup up their documents and sign their prepared tax forms.

For married filing joint customers, both spouses will need to be present on the final appointment for the signature of their return.

“With our COVID-19 precautions, we’re trying to limit face to face time,” Bolanos said. “In the past people would come in for their appointment, bring their tax documents with them and they could be face-to-face with a tax preparer for an hour or so. We anticipate it won’t take longer than 15 minutes to drop-off the taxes and it will not take longer than 15 minutes to review their taxes and get their signatures.”

All tax paperwork provided by tax filers should include, if necessary, copies of closing documents for homes purchased in 2020, real estate tax receipts, sale documents for any new or used car, motorcycle or motor home purchased in 2020 and any receipts for out-of-pocket medical expenses, charitable receipts, child care expense receipts, any out-of-pocket education expense receipts, IRA contribution documentation, a voided check or other account and routing number documentation for customers who want a direct deposit of their tax refund.

Bolanos said scope of services provided by tax preparers include basic tax preparation for customers who own no more than two rental properties.

MTAC, however, doesn’t provide preparation services for corporate taxes, stock trades or for customers who cash out on their Roth IRAs early, own more than two rental properties or have any other less common issues that are out of scope for VITA.

Bolanos said each tax return that is prepared is reviewed by another tax preparer to ensure it is done right.

“We do a quality review of every tax return we prepare,” he said.

Bolanos also addressed the question of the payroll tax cut holiday that took effect Sept. 1, 2020, which suspended taxpayers having to pay their 6.2 percent share of the Social Security tax for the remainder of 2020.

That temporary tax cut ended Jan. 1, which means taxpayers will have to pay double the Social Security tax for the amount that was not paid for the last four months of 2020.

While Bolanos said this will have an effect on people’s paychecks, it will have no effect on their 2020 tax returns.

Because of the COVID-19 protocols that will be put into place, Bolanos said MTAC appointments will be in high demand. When the center’s phone line and the website are activated Jan. 25, there will be a two-week window for appointments.

The first appointments available will be for the week of Feb. 1-5.

“We will be very busy and we ask folks for patience as they try to book their appointments,” Bolanos said.

Customers who have questions on scope of services offered by MTAC can call the appointment line at 210-221-1040 or at fortsamtax.setmore.com, where they can leave their contact information, starting Jan. 25.