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As the deadline approaches, tax help is still here

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- There is just a month to go before the April 18 deadline when taxes need to be filed. For those who waited until the last 30 days because filing taxes is such a hassle, there is a solution.

Those last minute filers can get the help they need for free at the Robins Tax Center which is a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program for service members, retirees and eligible family members.

Nearly 50 volunteers participated in a week-long IRS course in January to be able to prepare taxes.

One of those volunteers is Karin Winward, who has been with the VITA program for 10 years.

She started volunteering after receiving chemotherapy to help her brain to become more active again.

"It was something to challenge myself," the retired master sergeant said.

She, along with half of the volunteer staff, bring continuity to the tax center at Robins.

From airmen to retirees, the tax preparers are knowledgeable about how to file forms for those who serve or previously served in the military.

"There is an ease we can give to people that alleviates their stress about getting their taxes done," said Capt. Marcus Childress, assistant staff judge advocate.

The number of returns filed has grown from year to year. Last year, the center issued $3 million in refunds and filed 742 federal and 675 state returns, according to Childress.

So far this year, the program has filed 320 tax returns in its first four weeks.

"It's a very busy site. One of the biggest left in the Air Force," she said.

Tax preparers are trained to be able to process tax returns for every state since many military members may be residents of other states.

"It is an extremely beneficial service," Childress said.

The center, located in Bldg. 995, is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. It is operated by appointment only. Drop-off service is also available. To make an appointment, call Senior Airman Asheena Harris at 478-926-1831 or DSN 468-1831.

Did you know:
Most 2015 individual income tax returns will be due April 18 rather than April 15 this year. The new deadline is due to Emancipation Day, an official public holiday in the District of Columbia.

Emancipation Day is typically celebrated on April 16, the day in 1862 that President Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, which freed about 3,100 slaves living in the District.

When April 16 falls on a Saturday, as it does this year, the holiday is observed on April 15 moving Tax Day to April 18, the Monday following Emancipation Day weekend.

However, April 18 is also the third Monday in April, which is the date that Maine and Massachusetts observe Patriots' Day. Therefore, residents of Maine and Massachusetts will have until April 19 to file their 2015 income tax returns.