U.S. ID cardholders have saved about $4.5 million in tax-preparation fees so far this year by using tax centers at military bases, according to the U.S. Army Europe.

Lt. Col. Brian C. McNerney, a USAREUR spokesman, said the tax centers had prepared 32,380 federal tax returns and 13,375 state returns through April 15.

The savings, based on USAREUR’s estimate, comes to about $98 per return.

“It’s a benefit that soldiers can feel immediately in their pocket books,” McNerney said.

McNerney likened the benefit to being able to buy products tax-free at exchanges, and buying products for discounts at commissaries — every little bit helps.

“For a lieutenant colonel that’s one thing,” he said, “but for an E-3 or E-4 with a couple of kids in tow, the advantage is tremendous.”

McNerney said there are 27 tax-preparation centers on bases throughout Europe. They’re expected to stay busy for the rest of the year as servicemembers and Department of Defense employees take advantage of overseas and combat-zone extensions.

The total number of returns prepared by USAREUR this year is expected to exceed last year’s total of 57,000, McNerney said.

The program is run by military and civilian attorneys, paralegals, military.

McNerney said that in addition to saving money for its customers, USAREUR’s tax-preparers save them the trouble of learning tax laws and still be able to file accurate returns.

“Few of us have the time to stay abreast of the legal changes and do it with confidence,” he said.

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