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Commentary | Feb. 15, 2011

Making tax season less taxing

By Airman 1st Class Jason J. Brown 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

You're hunched over your desk, mounds of paperwork and receipts scattered everywhere as you hammer an endless sequence of numbers into a calculator and shuffle through forms to find where to pencil in the data. You've resorted to copious amounts of caffeine to keep you awake and are certain you'll have nightmares of digits, decimals and Internal Revenue Service agents chasing you.

Ah, another tax season has arrived; however, it doesn't need to be complicated or stressful - military members have several tax service options available to ease the stress of crunching numbers and rounding up write-offs.

I took advantage of free federal and state e-filing services provided to servicemembers by Military OneSource. I completed the simple filing process completely online in about 15 minutes. The step-by-step instructions told me where to find the information on my earnings statement and where to input that data.

I may not have a mortgage or children to claim, but the program asked questions to make sure I received the maximum refund possible. While I found the process extremely easy, I had the option to call a representative free to help me just in case I ran into a problem. Best of all, I received my federal refund via direct deposit into my bank account in five business days - no waiting on a paper check for weeks on end.

Not confident enough to attempt doing your own taxes? Just want to be absolutely sure you've filed correctly and will receive the biggest refund possible? Many installations provide free tax-filing service centers during the filing season. These services can be particularly helpful if you have issues related to significant lifestyle changes, such as marriage/divorce, children or residency moves.

While you may not be able to avoid filing income taxes, you can avoid the headaches it typically brings. Take it from me: I'd do anything to avoid doing the mundane mathematics of tax filing. Thanks to a helping hand, I was able to spend less time filling out forms and more time figuring out how to spend my refund.