Chief, Legal Assistance Office
It is not too early to begin planning for the upcoming income tax season. The Fort Drum Legal Assistance Office staff is excited to announce the new income tax training and assistance program.
Beginning in late January, free weekly tax classes for Soldiers, retirees and their Family Members will be given in Clark Hall, Bldg. 10720. These classes will familiarize attendees with common income tax forms and will teach participants how to prepare their own income tax returns. The class is designed for people who have never prepared their own tax returns, as well as those who have prepared their returns in the past but who would like a refresher on the latest changes in tax laws.
The goal of this new program is to empower participants with the knowledge and confidence they need so that they will never again have to rely on third-party tax preparers.
In addition, unit tax advisers (UTAs), who have been trained and certified by IRS, will be available at battalions and brigades to assist Soldiers with preparation and filing of their returns.
The Tax Assistance Center that previously operated in Bldg. 174 will not be available this year.
More details about the tax training will be published over the next few weeks, but now is the time to start gathering documents and information you will need to prepare your return. A wealth of additional tax information can be obtained from the IRS website at www.irs.gov.
The following is a helpful list of the most common documents and information you will need:
Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents;
Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents;
Your W-2 (usually available from your employer in mid to late January – for Soldiers, W-2s will be available at www.mypay.dfas.mil. Your LES is not sufficient);
Your bank account and routing number to receive your refund by direct deposit.
If you are married and filing jointly, and one spouse will be absent at the time you plan to file your return, you will need a general or special power of attorney (POA) that specifically covers filing taxes.
You can get a POA at the Legal Assistance Office in Clark Hall on a walk-in basis from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday (the office is closed on federal holidays and days of no scheduled activity), or you can obtain IRS Form 2848 on the IRS website at www.irs.gov. (The IRS form can only be used for federal returns. If you also will file a state return, visit your state’s taxation department website for their particular POA form.)
The following additional documents may be necessary, depending on your circumstances:
Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter for you, your spouse and dependents;
Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN;
Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R from all employers of all of your Family Members;
Interest and dividend statements from banks and brokers, including mortgage interest statements (Forms 1099);
Divorce decrees and receipts for alimony paid or received;
Child custody and support orders;
Receipts for IRA contributions;
Total amount paid to day care provider and the day care provider’s tax identification number (the provider’s Social Security number or the provider’s business Employer Identification Number);
Receipts and other supporting documentation if you plan to itemize your deductions in lieu of the standard deduction.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to plan ahead and take advantage of online resources. The IRS Free File program will be available in January at www.irs.gov. Commercial partners of the IRS offer free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $64,000 or less. Seventy percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File.
All taxpayers, regardless of income, will again have access to free online fillable forms, which provide electronic versions of IRS paper forms to complete and file. This option is available for free through www.irs.gov.
If you have questions about Fort Drum’s new income tax training and assistance program, call the Legal Assistance Office information line at (315) 772-5261.