2018 tax season is quickly approaching

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With the start of this new year, tax season is once again upon us. As we complete finishing touches on the Tax Center, here are some essential tips to ensure tax preparation goes as smoothly as possible:

Get organized now.

Spend this time gathering important tax documents and creating a document file. This could include documents such as daycare receipts, proof of education expenses, charitable donation receipts and gambling receipts. Then, as W-2s, 1098s and 1099s become available, add these to the filing system. Collecting all wage and income documents is essential to successfully preparing a tax return. For Soldiers, this means a W-2 from DFAS, which is available electronically through MyPay early this month. The W-2 is the document summarizing wages for the year. Those who have a savings account that pays interest will likely need a 1099-INT. Taxpayers with a mutual fund or a stock brokerage account will need a 1099-DIV. W-2s and 1099s are typically not available until late January.

Submit a correct tax return the first time.

When preparing taxes, not accounting for certain income (e.g. income from a second job or gambling winnings) could trigger the IRS to adjust or reject a tax return. Preparing taxes once can be difficult enough; doing it twice is even worse. Also, an adjusted tax return can result in penalties and accrued interest that a taxpayer would not otherwise have had to pay if the tax return was complete the first time.

Take the time now to create checklists, such as listing out all jobs held, all sources of retirement payments, and all sources of interest or dividend payments. Then as W-2s and 1099s become available, simply match them up with the checklist to ensure all the necessary documents are in order.

The previous year’s tax return is a great starting point for the checklist. For example, a Form 1040 tax return and the other forms with a 1040 identify the sources of income based on the 1099s and W-2s. If a taxpayer has not had changes in sources of income, credits or deductions, last year’s tax return can serve as a roadmap for the documents needed for this year’s return.

Married couples filing a joint return must personally sign the tax return.

If one person cannot sign, the other person is required to have a valid power of attorney to file the other person’s tax return for that tax year. If having taxes prepared by the Fort Knox Tax Center, the preparer will need to see the power of attorney. The power of attorney must be notarized and list the tax years authorized. A power of attorney is available at the Fort Knox Legal Assistance Office.

Tax filers will also need social security cards for all family members on the tax return, including dependent children.

Active duty service members, including Guard or Reserve if on active duty orders for 30 days or more, their Family members, and retirees and their family members, are entitled to receive tax center services, subject to certain limitations. For instance, the tax center cannot file a business tax return or a return for someone who is self-employed with a job that requires purchasing inventory.

The Tax Center, located in Pike Hall, Bldg. 1310, in the basement, at the corner of Knox Street and Third Avenue, will be open to all eligible customers beginning Jan. 22. Individuals may call (502) 624-0044 to schedule appointments beginning Jan. 17. Appointments are available Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m., with extended hours on Thursdays 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Walk-in appointments are available on Fridays. The 1040EZ drop-off option will also be available this year.

Remember: Begin the process of gathering all pertinent tax documents now. n