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Death and taxes are the only things certain in life, the saying goes, but servicemembers in the Pacific might add one more thing to the list: military tax centers.

Starting in February, most bases across the Pacific will open tax centers to help servicemembers, their families and certain civilians with filing accurate returns.

It’s an important service, many tax center leaders say, because tax law changes this year could benefit more military members than ever before.

“The biggest thing this year are the changes to the earned income credit,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jimmie Cornelius, leading petty officer at Yokosuka Naval Base’s tax center. “People that did not get the EIC last year, they possibly can get it this time,” he said, “and it means a bigger return for them.”

Starting this year, military housing and subsistence allowances won’t be counted as earned income, increasing the likelihood servicemembers can qualify for the earned income tax credit, said Capt. Matthew Shepherd, a U.S. Army tax officer.

Earned income credit is a tax credit for people with earned income under $34,178, according to the IRS. The EIC could range from $200 to $2,000, depending on the number of dependents and total earned income, Shepherd said.

The credit is added to whatever refund a servicemember may receive, Shepherd said.

Cornelius said EIC usually benefits lower enlisted or junior officers.

Cornelius recommends that filers bring all their W-2s and Social Security cards with them to the center.

“That’s the key,” he said, “because the information the IRS has comes from that and if the information on the forms is different, it can cause the system to reject their files.”

Yokosuka’s tax center will open Feb. 4 in the building next to the CPO Club and across the hall from the student transportation office. It will be open at 9 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The last appointment slot those days is 4 p.m. The office also will be open from noon to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. Call 243-6905 or 243-6465 for information.

At Camp Zama, soldiers are advised to speak with their unit tax advisers before going to the tax center, said Staff Sgt. Robin Thompson, from the legal office. The tax center at Zama, she said, will employ professional preparers to tackle difficult situations.

“They should go to them first,” she said. “We’re really only here for the hard taxes.”

Thompson said the opening date hasn’t been determined yet, but the tax center will be in Building 101, room CE-209, which is the JAG office. Call 263-3367 for more information.

At Sasebo Naval Base, the Navy Legal Services Office plans to open the tax center Feb. 3, said Lt. Randy Vavra, in charge of the tax office.

The Sasebo tax center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, with several evening appointments planned to accommodate ships’ schedules, Vavra said. It will be in the NLSO building, PW-47. Call 252-2117 for information.

Vavra said his top priority is “to help people do their taxes right to give them the refunds they deserve.”

But customers should remember that most tax center helpers are volunteers, Cornelius said. “The taxpayers are ultimately responsible,” he said. “We’re not H&R Block.”

— Jeremy Kirk contriburted to this story.

Tax centers in Japan and Okinawa

JAPAN

Yokosuka Naval Base

Starts Feb. 4. The tax center will be in the building next to the CPO Club and across the hall from the student transportation office. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, noon to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. Call 243-6905 or 243-6465.

Yokota Air Base

Starts Feb. 10. The tax center will be in the activity room of Building 3002. The first two weeks will be for 1040 EZ filers only, on a walk-in basis. Beginning Feb. 24, tax assistance will extended to all other filers, by appointment. Bring all tax documents including W-2 earning statements; interest income, if applicable; and a voided check or deposit slip. If you are claiming dependents and/or child-care expenses, please provide Social Security numbers and, if applicable, related child-care documents for each dependent. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Call 225-4926 or 225-4927.

Camp Zama

No opening date available. Contact your unit tax adviser or visit Building 101, Room CE-209.

Atsugi Naval Air Facility

Starts Feb. 3. The tax center will be in Building 75, next to the GSA Mart. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays except Wednesdays, when it will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Call 264-4745 or 264-4746.

Misawa Air Base

No opening date available. The tax center will be in Building 514, next to the Area Defense Council Office. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. Call 226-3948.

Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station

Starts Feb. 3. The tax center will be in Building 608, in the Law Center. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, and 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays in February. Call 253-3540 or 253-5962.

Sasebo Naval Base

Starts Feb. 3. The tax center will be in Building PW-47, the Navy Legal Service Office building. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, but the center plans on being open late several days a week to accommodate ships’ schedules. Call 252-2117.

OKINAWA

Kadena Air Base

Currently open. The tax center is in Building 1460, behind Eagle Hardware. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Walk-ins are welcome all day on Tuesdays and between 8 a.m. to noon Fridays. Call 253-3540 or 253-5962.

Camp Foster

Starts Feb. 10. The tax center will be in Building 442, in front of the Gunner’s Gym. Hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Call 645-1586 or 645-1829 for appointments starting Feb.3. Walk-ins also are welcome.

— Compiled by Stars and Stripes

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