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Services' Tax Form Assistance Programs Garner IRS Award

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2002 – The Internal Revenue Service has recognized the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps tax form assistance programs with its Exemplary Electronic Return Originator award.

Army Lt. Col. Tom Emswiler, executive director of the Armed Forces Tax Council, accepted the award Aug. 21 on behalf of the services' tax assistance programs at the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum in Atlanta.

Last year, tax centers at military installations prepared and electronically filed 418,112 federal tax returns. This made the military tax programs the largest noncommercial filer of electronic tax returns. The services also electronically filed 91,447 state returns and prepared 81,971 paper federal returns and 163,216 paper state returns.

"I was honored to accept the award on behalf of the military tax program," Emswiler said. "What I think the award is all about is the dedicated soldiers, sailors airmen, Marines and civilian employees who run our tax assistance centers each year. This year, they did it so well that the IRS recognized them with this prestigious award."

Emswiler pointed out that the number of federal returns filed electronically at military tax assistance centers increases each year. Partnership with the IRS has helped to make this possible, he noted.

"I also thank the IRS for its outstanding support of the military's tax assistance programs," he said, adding, "I look forward to building on this outstanding relationship."

An electronic return originator is a tax firm that files income tax returns electronically with the IRS. In prior years, the IRS honored one tax firm in each state that filed a large percentage of its customers' returns electronically, with few errors.

This year's IRS award to the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps marks the first time the agency has recognized an organization rather than an individual tax firm. The armed services provide tax preparation and electronic return filing as part of their legal assistance programs for service members.

For many years the services have provided free tax help and legal assistance on a host of other matters. Such services are important benefits that contribute to military readiness and quality of life, Emswiler said.

He noted more than 700 active and reserve component military and civilian legal assistance providers around the world help hundreds of thousands of service members each year to prepare wills and powers of attorney, file tax returns, notarize documents and more.

Commanders support tax assistance programs by detailing service members to prepare returns and by providing space and equipment for tax centers. The IRS supports these efforts by providing tax preparation training at sites around the world and free tax return software to the military.

Overall, service tax programs annually save service members and their families more than $57 million in fees, Emswiler estimated. And, with electronic filing and direct deposit, he added, service members can receive their refunds in less than a week.

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