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Lance Cpl. Logan Ash, Headquarters and Service Battalion logistics specialist, helps a client at the Marine Corps Base Quantico Tax Center April 11 during the last week of filing aboard the installation. The legal office is a certified VITA site, which offers cost-free federal and state income tax return preparation for military, military retirees and their families.

Photo by Ida Irby

Marines reflect on a taxing season

14 Apr 2016 | Ida Irby Marine Corps Base Quantico

April 1 to some is the welcoming of spring or to others a day of hoaxes and practical jokes. For many taxpayers it is a 15-day countdown to meet the tax-filing deadline. Thus, April 15 is the last day for walk-ins at the Marine Corps Base Quantico Tax Center.

“We will keep our doors open to coincide with [the official tax deadline] April 18 to complete the work of any clients with pending documents. The IRS will consider all documents late for filing after that day.” There is a six-month extension available for those who need more time, said Capt. Andres Vasquez, Quantico Tax Center legal assistance attorney.

The Quantico center staff prepared an average of 40 returns a day during tax season. Today, with less than a week remaining, the tax center has prepared a total of 2,297 tax returns amounting to $3,158,270, to save clients $370,720 in filing fees.

The center was open each weekday. Walk-ins were welcomed from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. The hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays were from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. to support clientele with different schedules. Friday’s work hours were from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nevertheless, the staff helped clients waiting to file when the center closed each day.

Marines from Marine Corps Intelligence Agency, Marine Corps University, Headquarters and Service Battalion, National Capital Region Legal Service Support Section and one civilian volunteer manned the office since its opening on Jan. 25. Three Marine reservists were activated to complete the staffing at the center for approximately four months.

Marine Corps reservist Cpl. Richard Laureano, Cpl. Alvaro Cortez and Lance Cpl. Paul Banks, Marine Corps University finance financial clerk, each joined the team for a second year.

“One of the keys to our success is experience,” said Vasquez. “Having these Marines return makes a world of difference, because it builds confidence in the new Marines to see their peers excelling at tax preparation.”

More of the Marines are more educated on the subject than last year

Each Marine received certification through the Link & Learn Taxes web-based program on the irs.gov site. The IRS prepared volunteers for electronic filing under their Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

“Every VITA site has to complete this program, and each preparer must become certified in military tax returns, basic returns and advanced level tax returns,” said Vasquez.

The online training was followed with practical application to familiarize Marines with software. Some Marines complete upwards of 30 practice tax forms. After six weeks of training, Marines were ready to be tax preparers.

“We want the Marines to understand the serious nature of what they are doing. They are preparing a real person’s returns and there are implications in doing it correctly,” said Vasquez

Often people need help with amendments, which include deductions, exemptions, or reporting additional tax documents. After the tax season is over clients who need additional support can visit the Legal Assistance Office at 3095 Roan St. or call 703-784-3126.

The leaders at the tax center have prepared a cookout to celebrate a successful tax season.

“Without the Marines we would not be able to support the community day-by-day. The center’s accomplishments are based on their support,” said Vasquez.

— Writer: iirby@quanticosentryonline.com