FORT POLK, La. — The 2016 tax season is rapidly approaching. Are you thinking about paying someone to do your taxes? You might want to reconsider.

FORT POLK, La. — The 2016 tax season is rapidly approaching. Are you thinking about paying someone to do your taxes? You might want to reconsider.

An opening ceremony for the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk Tax Center is held Monday at 3:30 p.m. The center is located in bldg 2502, 8184 Alabama Ave. (corner of Alabama Avenue and 23rd Street). For more information visit: www.jrtc-polk.army.mil/SJA/Installation_Tax_Center.

While other entities charge to prepare each state and federal tax return and may also charge additional fees for transmitting the information to the IRS and respective states, the Fort Polk Installation Tax Center will prepare and transmit your taxes for free.

The center will prepare both federal and state taxes free of charge for active-duty personnel and their dependents, Reservists on active duty for more than 90 days and their dependents and military retirees and their dependents. If you fall into one of these categories, don’t pay someone to prepare your taxes and end up giving away part of your refund. Visit the center instead.

The center is open from Monday through April 15. It is located at bldg 2502 on the corner of Alabama Avenue and 23rd Street on South Fort Polk. Hhours of operation are from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday (except for federal holidays) and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

Although walk-ins are available on a limited basis, appointments have priority. Call calling 531-1040 beginning Monday to set up an appointment.

If planning to walk-in, please be patient and know that the tax professionals will do their best to accommodate you.

To make sure your tax preparation experience goes smoothly, please follow these guidelines:

• Both spouses must be present to file joint returns. If one spouse cannot be present, a valid power of attorney is needed allowing the present spouse to file and sign a tax return on the absent spouse’s behalf. Power of attorneys are available at the legal assistance office. IRS Form 2848 may also be used. Ensure IRS instructions are followed when filling out IRS Form 2848. Instructions can be found on the irs.gov website.

• Social Security cards are required for the service member, spouse and all family members being claimed on the tax return.

• Bring last year’s federal and state tax return to the appointment. These returns are helpful to check against deductions made for this tax season such as rental property, depreciation, itemized deductions and capital gains and/or losses. For state preparation, there may be specific information about deductions, school or county codes that will benefit your tax preparer.

• Bring proof of dates of birth of the service member, spouse and all family members being claimed.

• Bring original copies of W-2s and 1099-Rs. Now would be a good time to notify past employers of a new address so they can send the W-2 directly to you. W-2s will become available for military personnel on the MyPay website online. For retirees, 1099-Rs are available online.

• If you have completed a DITY move, you will receive a second W2. Substitute W-2s are not eligible for filing until after Feb. 15. The Tax Office will not have your W-2s.

• If you have any interest income from banks or stocks, bring Form 1099-INT.

• If you received any mortgage interest, bring Form 1098.

• If you received income from retirement, bring Form 1099-R. If you received unemployment or disability payments, bring Form 1099-G.

• If you believe the armed forces made payments on your student loan, inquire about the W-2 or get a print out from Finance. For any other payment you made on your student loan, your lender should send you the necessary information. If you don’t receive it, contact your lender.

• If you claim any education expenses, bring your student registration for itemized expenses paid and any loans/grants that were to be applied.

• If claiming an exemption for a person who is in someone else’s legal custody, bring IRS Form 8332 signed by the custodial person saying you may claim the exemption for that person.

• To benefit from the child-care deduction, bring the provider’s name, Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number, address and total amount paid to your the provider. Most child-care providers offer an itemized statement with this information.

• If you intend to itemize charitable deductions, bring a letter from the church, or official parties or charity that received the benefit.

• If you want to have your refund directly deposited directly into your checking or savings account, bring a check or other confirmation of your routing number and bank account numbers.

For more information call 531-1040.