Yokota Air Base, Japan --
Each year Americans are faced with the task of filing their taxes, luckily for Team Yokota, there’s a place on base where they can go for free help from knowledgeable people.
The 374th Airlift Wing Legal Office manages the Tax Center which is completely manned by 10 trained and dedicated active duty and civilian volunteers who prepared nearly 1000 returns last year. The volunteers look forward to helping people learn and get the most out of their taxes.
“It’s fun,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Reed, 374th Operations Support Squadron, air traffic controller radar facility and automations manager and Tax Center volunteer. “Being able to teach people about their taxes, helping them get the money their entitled to is a good feeling. Whether it’s 20 or 200 bucks, you’re helping a person.”
The volunteers work in the tax center during their off duty time or through scheduling flex-time with their work centers.
While anyone can become a tax center volunteer, each must take a week long intensive course taught by Internal Revenue Service agents on advanced military specific tax preparation.
“For anyone who is intimidated about taking the course, the class is very thorough and the IRS agents running the program are certified and knowledgeable,” said Staff Sgt. Solomon Faulkner, 374th Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight noncommissioned officer in charge of the inspection section and tax center volunteer. “If you have a question on anything when you’re doing someone’s taxes there is always someone who has the answer.”
Many of the volunteers first took the course because they wanted to learn more about their own taxes; then learned they enjoyed the experience and opportunity to help others navigate and understand their taxes better.
While filing your own taxes may sound nerve racking, filing another person’s taxes for the first time can be much more intimidating.
“At first you’re scared to do someone’s taxes,” said Reed. “But once you get through that first one, the second and third you start to get more comfortable and you start just doing it.”
According to Reed, filing taxes is not hard, it’s just most people don’t know the basics for filing their taxes. Tax preparation is not taught in schools and it’s uncommon for parents to sit down with their kids and teach them, usually because many parents don’t know themselves.
Luckily there are highly trained people who will sit down and help you learn how to get the most out of your taxes.
“Each volunteer brings a unique skill set to the Tax Center that enables us to work at a capacity beyond the eleven-person team that we are,” said Capt. Alexandra K. Fleszar, 374 AW chief of legal assistance and preventative law. “Whether it is the tax experience they have as a veteran volunteer, tech knowledge they have gained in their field, or their client-communications skills, each volunteer helps us amplify our service to the Yokota community.”
The tax center is open to active duty military, retired military, dependents and Department of Defense civilian employees stationed at Yokota.
For service members assigned overseas receive an automatic two month extension and may file their taxes up until June 15th, 2018.
For more information and to set up appointments contact the base Legal Office at 225-4927. The Tax Center is located in building 315 on the 1st floor.