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Capt. Brad Crockett, right, helps Pvt. Terry Brumett with a customer's tax filing this week at the tax center in Baumholder, Germany. Since Jan. 29, the tax center has helped file refunds worth $1.4 million.
Capt. Brad Crockett, right, helps Pvt. Terry Brumett with a customer's tax filing this week at the tax center in Baumholder, Germany. Since Jan. 29, the tax center has helped file refunds worth $1.4 million. (Geoff Ziezulewicz / S&S)

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — While watching frantic last-minute taxpayers rush to file their forms on the night of April 15, an American icon by the name of Homer Simpson was heard to remark, “Would you take a look at those morons. I filed my taxes over a year ago!”

But don’t fret: It’s actually pretty easy to get your taxes filed while living in Europe.

Tax centers are popping up at installations to help make the process of getting straight with Uncle Sam go smoothly.

At Ray Barracks in Baumholder, which saw the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade come back from Iraq late last year, the pace has been fast since the local tax center opened Jan. 29, said Capt. Brad Crockett.

So far, the tax center has processed more than 730 returns for refunds totaling about $1.4 million, he said. About 330 of those filings were done in the first week of business.

“We’ve been very busy,” Crockett said, adding that many soldiers deployed since late 2005 are now playing catch up. “For many soldiers, we’re also doing their 2005 and 2006 taxes.”

Soldiers coming and going from the garrison likely accounted for the initial high tempo, he said.

Some of the younger soldiers coming in have “high expectations” on what kind of money the federal government is going to kick back, Crockett said, but deployment pay is not taxed, so a soldier that was gone for most of 2006 might not get a lot in his or her refund.

But there are caveats to that, too, he said. Soldiers with families can get bigger refunds by taking advantage of child credits and earned income tax credits.

“It makes it harder to predict,” he said. “They might get a $7,000 return because they earned a child credit and an earned income tax credit.”

This can lead to befuddlement among the younger and single soldier set, Crockett said.

“Some soldiers will come in and say, ‘My friend got $7,000 back, and I’m only getting $200. What’s up with that?’” he said. “They may not be getting a lot of money back, but they made all this money tax-free (while deployed). The tax advantages of that are pretty significant.”

In addition to a June 15 deadline for overseas American tax filings, deployed personnel get a 180-day extension from when they leave the combat zone, he said.

But if there’s a chance you may owe money, it’s best to get it taken care of before this year’s April 17 deadline, because interest can accrue on the balance, Crockett said.

Taxpayers also need to make sure they’re current with their state-of-residence tax regulations, he said. Some clients don’t realize they may still need to pay state taxes while living in Europe.

It’s a particular problem for civilians, he said, and can result in audits or money being taken from a federal refund to pay off a state balance if ignored.

“They may still end up owing taxes, even if they haven’t had money withheld,” Crockett said.

Getting ready to file at the Baumholder tax center this week, April Zanker said she and her husband, Sgt. Randolph Zanker, got a pretty good refund last year.

She’s not sure how it’s going to turn out this year. Sgt. Zanker returned from deployment with the brigade in late 2006.

“I honestly have no idea,” she said. “But the refund is better when you got kids.”

Tax center locations

GERMANYBamberg:DSN 469-8261.Baumholder: DSN 485-1040.Darmstadt: DSN 348-6656.Friedberg: DSN 324-2277.Garmisch: DSN 421-4588.Grafenwöhr: DSN 475-7779.Hanau: DSN 322-9577.Heidelberg: DSN 370-7510.Hohenfels: DSN 466-2817.Kaiserslautern: DSN 483-7688.Katterbach: DSN 467-2324.Illesheim: DSN 467-2324.Mannheim: DSN 381-7225.Ramstein Air Base:DSN 480-1040.Schweinfurt: DSN 353-8992.Spangdahlem Air Base: DSN 452-1040.Stuttgart: DSN 421-4588.Vilseck: DSN 476-3316.Wiesbaden: DSN 337-4755.Würzburg: DSN 350-6292.

ITALYAviano Air Base: No tax center.Livorno: DSN 633-7227.Naples: DSN 626-1323.Sicily: DSN 624-5472.Vicenza: DSN 634-7140.

SPAINRota: DSN 727-2531.

TURKEYIncirlik Air Base:DSN 676-6800or 90-322-316-6800.

UNITED KINGDOMRAF Alconbury:DSN 269-3535.RAF Fairford: unavailable.RAF Lakenheath: DSN:226-1807 or 01638 52 1807RAF Menwith Hill: unavailable.RAF Mildenhall:DSN 238-3913 or 01638 543913Croughton: DSN 236-8652Molesworth: DSN 268-3535

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