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Fort Gordon tax center opens to soldiers for free military returns

Posted: February 2, 2014 - 1:05am
Sgt. 1st Class Eric Shakespeare (from left), Capt. Marc Emond and Col.  Scott Young cut the ribbon to officially open the Fort Gordon Tax Center at the Courtyard on Brainard Avenue. The center will be open Tuesday to Saturday.  Photo by Michael Holahan
Photo by Michael Holahan
Sgt. 1st Class Eric Shakespeare (from left), Capt. Marc Emond and Col. Scott Young cut the ribbon to officially open the Fort Gordon Tax Center at the Courtyard on Brainard Avenue. The center will be open Tuesday to Saturday.

After a year in which the Army was challenged by civilian furloughs and a partial government shutdown, Fort Gordon commanders could have canceled funding for the post’s tax center.

Col. Scott Young, the post’s staff judge advocate, said Tuesday that he was glad senior leadership decided to keep the office running for a ninth consecutive year.

Last year, the tax center processed more than 2,400 returns for soldiers, family members and retirees, securing more than $4.9 million in refunds and providing customers an estimated savings of $480,000 in preparation fees.

“The amount of money saved coming here nearly totaled $500,000 that soldiers would have otherwise had to pay out of pocket to go to civilian services downtown,” Young said during the center’s opening ceremony Tuesday at the Courtyard on Brainard Avenue. “Money is tight and it’s important we do what we can to improve the lives of our soldiers.”

With the snip of a ribbon, the tax center at Fort Gordon officially opened its doors at 9:30 a.m., with Capt. Marc Emond taking control of the 26-person operation. Young said the tax center ranks among the highest in the Army for quality returns.

The center employs 18 service members, two commanders and six civilian volunteers. Its hours of operation are Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“For our staff, one of the keys to success that we stress is the Army saying, ‘Slow is steady. Steady is fast,’ ” Emond said. “It sounds simple, but it can be difficult when someone is sitting in front of you to get all the information you need to file a return quickly and accurately. We don’t want to have to go back and correct mistakes.”

Sgt. Tim Hathaway enters his second term at the tax center.

He last prepared taxes for the 2006-07 fiscal year.

Hathaway told customers to bring their Social Security cards, W2s and any other tax forms or related bank statements.

Herbert Brayboy, a retired Army staff sergeant who lives in Hephzibah, had all such documents Tuesday and was the center’s first customer.

“I always come the first day,” said Brayboy, who served in the military from 1958 through 1979. “I like to get it done and out of the way, and this place has always been the best for that.”

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