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Fort Bragg Tax Center to only serve Gold Star families

By STEVE DEVANE | The Fayetteville Observer | Published: December 31, 2019

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — The Fort Bragg Tax Center, which helped file thousands of 2018 tax returns, will only help the families of troops who died in conflict with their 2019 taxes, post officials said.

The change was announced on Fort Bragg's Facebook page in December and confirmed Thursday by a post spokesman.

Previously, the tax center provided active-duty service members, their family members and retirees with free tax preparation, electronic filing and tax form distribution for federal and state tax returns. In the first four months of 2019, more than 11,500 tax returns with more than $16.8 million in refunds were filed through the center.

The center helped more than 25,000 service members, retirees and family members with their 2017 taxes and filed more than 20,000 returns, according to the spokesman. The center saved its clients about $5.4 million in tax preparation fees, he said.

A Dec. 19 post on the Fort Bragg Facebook page said officials are changing who can use the facility.

"For the 2019 tax year, only Gold Star Families will be eligible to use the services provided by the installation's tax center," it said.

An average of more than 35 soldiers are assigned to help support the center each year, according to the post. Fort Bragg has been cutting back on the number of soldiers on such duty of the past few years, it said.

"This means keeping soldiers in their squads and platoons and not on a detail," the post said. "We understand this change will be an inconvenience for some, however, the readiness and capabilities of Fort Bragg service members and units are our top priority."

During the first several months of this year, 36 soldiers from 11 units in the 18th Airborne Corps worked at the center. They received training on the tax code and worked on mock returns before they started helping with tax issues.

The Facebook post included a list of free services available through the Internal Revenue Service and a link to MilTax, a service for active duty service members and their dependents through Military OneSource, a Defense Department network.

"MilTax is a suite of free tax services for the military, including easy-to-use tax preparation and e-filing software, personalized support from tax consultants, and current information about filing taxes in the military," the website says. "It's designed to address the realities of military life – including deployments, combat and training pay, housing and rentals and multistate filings."

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