Tax volunteers training.jpg

Judging from the mood in the conference room, taxes can be fun.

The Tax Assistance Center’s longtime volunteers laughed and chatted while arriving for training Friday in preparation for the year. Rachael Yeoman, paralegal in the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, is entering her 16th year as the tax center manager. Half of the 21 volunteers attended the training in the office’s conference room.

Capt. Cade Shiozaki, chief of legal assistance, was introduced as the year’s tax center officer-in-charge.

“Thank you all so much for your help,” he said. “Obviously this couldn’t happen without you guys. This is above and beyond what most installations have. Hopefully we can build on that and keep moving forward.”

Last year’s returns prepared by the volunteer-operated facility totaled 4,777 which included 2,411 federal and 2,366 state. This delivered $4,377,185 in refunds and saved $978,438 in fees. From late January through April at the office, the volunteers provided free tax preparation to the military community.

Training is planned Jan. 6-10 so the center is tentatively expected to open Jan. 21.

Retired Lt. Col. John Patch, 74, of Monrovia, is entering his ninth year as a volunteer. “I enjoy helping people,” he said.

Also marking his ninth year at the center is retired Lt. Col. Eric Deets, 72, of Huntsville.

“First of all, it’s challenging,” Deets said. “And in retirement you’re supposed to do something challenging to keep your mind active. You sit on the sofa, you watch TV, you die.

“It is helping people. One of my favorite ones who keeps coming in is the widow of a World War II Soldier so she wants help. She needs help.”

The volunteers include Cheryl Burns, Lee Smith, Lisa McCrary, Patch, Deets, Emily Hsi, Jan Berry, Lindsay Coop, Kay Theodoss, Carol Burke, Greg Knight, Rob Morris, Sandy Hovde, Janet German, Min Wallace, Billie Hunter, Jenn Mills, Carmen Villanueva, Ruthie Villanueva, Dawn Byers and Dale Fulton.

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