By CAPT. JAMES CREEGAN
OIC, Fort Knox Tax Center
The Fort Knox Tax Center is now in full swing, churning out tax returns for the 2013 tax filing season. We have tax preparers from eight different commands on post busily preparing tax returns for our Soldiers, Family members and retirees. So far, we have secured more than $2 million in refunds for the Fort Knox community. However, that number only represents a fraction of the people who will ultimately use the tax center’s services. Most of the Fort Knox community has yet to file their taxes.
For those of you who have not yet filed, it’s important that you are prepared when you come to the Tax Center for your appointment. Having all the required documents saves you time and helps the Tax Center run more efficiently. We can only complete and file your tax returns if you have all the required documents with you for your appointment. If something is missing, you will have to reschedule your appointment entirely or return at a later date to provide the missing documentation required to finish your return.
One common issue for taxpayers is having the correct power of attorney. For anyone who is filing a joint tax return on behalf of their spouse, you must have a POA from your spouse that specifically authorizes you to prepare this year’s tax returns. If you have a specific or special POA, it should be sufficient. If you have a general POA, check it to make sure that the POA specifies 2012 taxes, or the 2013 tax filing season. The IRS will not accept general POAs that do not have a specific year included. This is the IRS’s rule—we have no control over it. Furthermore, the POA that’s available on the IRS’s website is not accepted by the Tax Center because it does not have a place to be notarized. The Tax Center can only accept notarized POAs due to the risk of fraud. Check your POA to make sure it’s sufficient. If you need a new POA, the Legal Assistance Office offers them on a walk-in basis.
Social Security cards are required documents for all taxpayers and their dependents. You must bring with you the Social Security cards of everyone whose name is going to be on your tax return—you, your spouse, your children and anyone else you are claiming as a dependent. If any of these people do not have their Social Security cards, a replacement may be obtained by visiting your local Social Security Administration office. They can mail you a replacement card in just a couple of days. If you or any of your dependents do not have a Social Security number, they must have a document showing their Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
Finally, make sure that you bring all of your tax documents with you. This includes any official forms you received evidencing income, interest paid or received, canceled debt, or any other financial event (generally W-2s, 1098s and 1099s). Be especially mindful of any interest statements from financial institutions your receive (1099-INT), as forgetting to include interest income—even just a few dollars’ worth—is among the most common reasons taxpayers have to amend their taxes. In addition, if you have any income from other sources for which you did not receive a tax form, or if you are itemizing deductions or taking specific credits or deductions, make sure you bring documentation. If you have any questions about what documents you might need, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, call the Tax Center at (502) 624-0044.
If you have been affected by the delays with some of this year’s tax forms, we have an important update. The IRS has now begun accepting the tax forms necessary to claim education credits (the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit) and to claim depreciation on rental properties. That means that anyone who was waiting to file your taxes because of education credits or rental property will now be able to file their taxes. If you are planning on claiming energy credits or qualified adoption expenses, the IRS is not yet accepting the necessary forms to file taxes. These forms should be ready by early March. Check your weekly “Gold Standard” for further updates.