First Draft: W-2s and 1040s

Hello all, and welcome again to 2020. I am sure many of you are heading into the Spring semester with new classes, new beginnings, and new opportunities for learning.

One of the new questions that has been circling around given the current world environment has to do with filling out the FAFSA and the military draft. Since there has been a lot of confusion about this, I thought I would add a few words of clarification here.

Filling out the FAFSA does NOT put you in the front of the line.

First, a reminder that we do not have an active draft. Remember we have an all volunteer armed forces (and we owe a great deal of gratitude, honor, and appreciation to those who volunteer for service). It would take an act of Congress to re-institute the Draft, and there is currently no move to do so.

Secondly, while registering for Selective Service is a requirement for men who are 18 years of age and older, and checking your status is a requirement for receiving Federal financial aid, there is no “priority” for those who complete the FAFSA. In fact, the information confirming your registration comes from a database match between the two systems (FAFSA and Selective Service) and no permanent record is maintained of this check on the Selective Service side.

So what is Selective Service? It is a system that guarantees that IF a draft is ever declared that all men ages 18 to 24 would be eligible for service. But again, this hasn’t been used since the Vietnam War and no one has suggested that the Draft would be restarted.

So now that we have put that issue to bed, let’s return to taxes. The first question you should be asking is do I have to file a Federal Income Tax Return? Generally if you are single, under the age of 65, and not self-employed (only paid by your employer through a standard paycheck), then as long as you earned less than 12,000 in 2019, you do not HAVE to file. a Federal Tax Return. If you are claimed by someone else as a dependent, you are married or self-employed (or both), or you have other special circumstances you should check with the IRS to see if you are required to file. The IRS has an interactive tool that can help you determine if you are required to file a return.

Just keep in mind, even if you don’t have to file a return, you may still WANT to file a return. Check your paystub or W-2; if your employer has taken out Federal Income Tax, the only way you can get this money back is by filing a tax return. And the amount withheld may make it worthwhile.

Especially because there are many free resources to help you file your taxes. More on this next time.

What paperwork should you have ready when it is time to file your return? First, make sure you have the W-2 forms from each of your employers for 2019. These forms show how much you earned for the year and how much Federal Income Tax was withheld. Note that companies might not send these to you until the end of January. You also want to make sure you have any 1099 Form for miscellaneous income (or self-employment income). Also make sure you have any other tax forms you might have been sent (like interest forms from your bank, or loan repayment forms for your education loans, and your 1098-T from your college for tuition paid).

We’ll get more into the filing process next time on the blog! Stay well!