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NAPLES, Italy — The pain in their voice was palpable as tax filers desperately tried to secure an appointment with Cody Wassmann prior to the April 15 tax deadline.

As tax filers arrived at the Cappodichino tax office, they were directed to the do-it-yourself computer stations set up in the ad-hoc center in the basement of one of the billeting facilities. Getting an appointment with Wassmann was a little more difficult, because he is the only Volunteer Income Tax Assistance representative working in the office.

But those who missed the April 15 deadline don’t have to worry — people living and working overseas get an automatic two-month extension, and the Naples tax center will be open at least until May.

To use the automatic extension — which delays the deadline to June 15 — filers must attach a statement to their return explaining why they qualify for the extension. For more information on the extension, visit the IRS Web site.

The tax-help center opened in mid-February. Although several people showed up for a weeklong training course provided by the U.S. Treasury department, only three helped out with taxes, officials said. By mid-March, two of the volunteers had to return to their duties in the base legal office.

Since then, Wassmann — a master-at-arms assigned to the base security department — has been on his own.

“We’ve probably had about 150 use our do-it-yourself computers,” Wassmann said. “I’ve had many more personnel come in, attempt to utilize it, and then quit and make an appointment to come back and see me.”

The program isn’t that difficult, Wassmann said. He tells clients he will help them, but people want personalized service if they can get it.

Sandro Shaw, an Army retiree, traveled about 65 miles from the town of Gaeta for Wassmann to help him with his taxes.

“If I didn’t have this service, I would have to find someone else to help me with this, which would be difficult for me,” Shaw said.

Although the final numbers aren’t in yet, Wassmann estimates he’s probably helped recoup more than $500,000 in returns, with only about 12 filers owing money.

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