Tax Time: free is not always free

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Many companies offer military members free tax preparation and/or filing. Your well-being isn't always their first priority.

You will normally find these companies within five miles of any military installation targeting service members. They will offer to prepare and possibly file your taxes. Without telling you the true intent, they'll also have some ideas of how to help you spend that return. 

No matter where you file your taxes this tax season, make sure it's truly free and READ THE FINE PRINT.

Fortunately for military members and their families, there are many Department of Defense approved organizations that do your taxes for free. Start with your military installation's Tax Office. This office is run by the legal office with support from trained Volunteer Income Tax Assistant representatives to prepare and file the truly free, no strings attached return. 

The Internal Revenue Service has free filing opportunities for those making less than $60,000 annually. Visit the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov for details. 

Lastly, active duty military can go to Military One Source and use their free software to file the tax return. That software is now available.

You could pay for financial counseling and tax consultations, but why? You could pay for your tax software, but why?

Military OneSource helps service members and eligible family members by providing access to no-cost financial counseling, tax consultations and secure online tax preparation and filing. Get started on your taxes now by meeting with a trained Military OneSource tax consultant for military-specific advice regarding your tax questions, at no cost.

Call 800-342-9647 or visit their website at http://www.militaryonesourceeap.org for tax services. A Military OneSource login ID and password will be required, so register now.

The base tax office will open around the first week in February. For opening date and hours of operation call 283-4681 or the Airman and Family Readiness Center at 283-4204 for Personal Financial Readiness questions or assistance.

Whichever FREE means you choose to file your taxes this year, just make sure you READ THE FINE PRINT.