Fort Drum Legal Assistance Office

Fort Drum Legal Assistance Office PLEASE NOTE SPECIFIC LEGAL ADVICE WILL NOT BE GIVEN THROUGH THIS FORUM. PLEASE DO NOT POST ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION. HOURS OF OPERATION: • Mon, Tue, Wed, & Fri, 0830-1600 • Thu, 0830-1500 • Closed on Federal Holidays & DONSAs APPOINTMENTS: • Next day business day appointments are made by calling (315) 772-7545 at 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. • Powers of attorney, notarizations, and a variety of informational pamphlets are available on a walk-in basis.

All other matters require an appointment. ELIGIBLE CLIENTS: • Active Component members of the Armed Forces and their Family Members. • Reserve Component members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty more than 29 days, and their Family Members. • Active and Reserve Component members of the Armed Forces who are receiving military retirement or disability pay ("gray" card retired Reserve Component members are not eligible for assistance). • Department of Defense civilian employees against whom pecuniary liability has been recommended under AR 735-5. • Department of Defense civilian employees who are to deploy to a combat zone, but only for matters related to their imminent deployment.

Mission: The mission of the legal assistance program is to assist those eligible for legal assistance by (1) meeting their needs for information on personal legal matters, and (2) resolving their personal legal problems whenever possible.

Operating as usual

11/25/2020

HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING BUT PLEASE DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE. Law enforcement agencies across the state will be enforcing the statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown from Wednesday, November 25th, through Sunday, November 29th, 2020. Driving While Intoxicated is a crime (a misdemeanor). A conviction will result in a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000, and/or jail for up to one year, plus other driver responsibility assessments, mandatory court surcharges, and other related fees and penalties. A person’s NY license (or right to drive in NY if the person has an out of state license) will be revoked for six months. A person must have a BAC level of only .08% to be intoxicated. The degree of impairment depends on four primary factors: (1) how much a person drinks; (2) how long a person drinks; (3) the amount of food a person eats (food slows absorption of alcohol); and (4) a person’s body weight. As a rough rule of thumb, for an average 140-160 pound person, BAC levels rise .02% per hour per drink (one drink equals one 12 ounce can of beer, one 5 ounce glass of wine, or one shot of 86-proof liquor). For example, a 140 pound person who consumes five drinks during a two-hour period will have a .08% BAC. Generally, a person’s body metabolizes about one drink each hour (or .02%). That means that 140 pound person may not safely drive a vehicle for AT LEAST four hours after consuming the last drink. IT IS NOT WORTH THE RISK! USE A DESIGNATED DRIVER, CALL A CAB, STAY OVERNIGHT WITH A FRIEND OR AT A HOTEL. A DWI charge is a costly, life-changing event.

11/21/2020

NEW YORK MINIMUM WAGE GOING UP. On December 31, 2020, the minimum wage increases to $12.50/hour. The minimum wage for fast food workers increases to $14.50/hour.

11/18/2020

This Thanksgiving, millions will hit the roads to spend time with family and friends. In a combined effort to stop impaired driving, prevent injuries and save lives law enforcement officers across New York State will take to the roads. The statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown efforts start on Wednesday, November 25, 2020 and will end on Sunday, November 29, 2020.

11/18/2020

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the 21st Annual "Buckle Up New York, Click It or Ticket" enforcement campaign is underway and will run through November 29, 2020. The statewide campaign, supported by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, raises awareness about the importance of wearing seat belts. Throughout the mobilization, state and local law enforcement agencies are using marked and unmarked vehicles, checkpoints, and roving details to patrol for unbelted occupants. Law enforcement is also making sure children are properly restrained.

11/09/2020

COVID-19 SCAMS CONTINUE! The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today warned of a new text scam created by thieves that trick people into disclosing bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payment.

NEITHER THE IRS NOR STATE AGENCIES WILL EVER TEXT TAXPAYERS ASKING FOR BANK ACCOUNT INFORMATION SO THAT AN EIP DEPOSIT MAY BE MADE.

"Criminals are relentlessly using COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments as cover to try to trick taxpayers out of their money or identities," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "This scam is a new twist on those we've been seeing much of this year. We urge people to remain alert to these types of scams."

The scam text message states: "You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment into your account. Continue here to accept this payment ..." The text includes a link to a fake phishing web address.

This fake phishing URL, which appears to come from a state agency or relief organization, takes recipients to a fraudulent website that impersonates the IRS.gov Get My Payment website. Individuals who visit the fraudulent website and then enter their personal and financial account information will have their information collected by these scammers.

THE IRS DOES NOT SEND UNSOLICITED TEXTS OR EMAILS. THE IRS DOES NOT CALL PEOPLE WITH THREATS OF JAIL OR LAWSUITS, NOR DOES IT DEMAND TAX PAYMENTS ON GIFT CARDS.

10/28/2020

NEW SEAT BELT LAW GOES INTO EFFECT SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2020. All Back Seat passengers a motor vehicle driven in New York must wear seat belts, regardless of their age (see NY Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1229-c).

09/29/2020

RESIDENTIAL EVICTION MORATORIUM EXTENDED. On 28 September 2020, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state’s Tenant Safe Harbor Act will be extended until 1 January 2021 to protect residential tenants from eviction if they are suffering financial hardship during the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Cuomo first announced a state moratorium on residential evictions on 20 March 2020 to ensure no tenant was evicted during the peak of the pandemic.

The moratorium was created to protect tenants, who lost their jobs because of the pandemic, from being evicted. Tenants who have not experienced financial hardship because of the pandemic should be paying rent in a timely manner. The moratorium is not "forgiveness" of rent - tenants who do not pay rent are accumulating arrearages which will become due and payable at a later date.

09/02/2020

Did you have to pay additional taxes, or get an excessively large refund, this past tax season? If so, now is a great time for a 2020 #PaycheckCheckup with the #IRS Tax Withholding Estimator. Go to www.irs.gov/withholding to see if you should adjust your tax withholdings by submitting a new W4 form to your employer.

09/02/2020

BEWARE OF COVID CONTACT TRACERS SCAM. The Better Business Bureau reports scammers are contacting people pretending to be COVID-19 Contact Tracers. They pose as health department workers, claiming they are trying to identify anyone who may have had contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Legitimate Contact Tracers will ask for your name and date of birth. Scammers will ask for additional PII, for example your social security number, to steal your identity. Some will tell you that you have been exposed to the coronavirus and you must provide your bank account or credit card number to purchase a test kit. Legitimate Contact Tracers will not ask for money, account numbers, or social security numbers. There are no fees associated with legitimate tracing.

The scams can also come in the form of a text. If you get a text from someone claiming to be a contact tracer, do not click on any link provided in that text. Legitimate tracers may send a text or e-mail alerting you to expect a call from them - but the contact is then made over the phone.

08/25/2020

NEW SEAT BELT LAW. Effective November 1, 2020, BACK SEAT PASSENGERS of a motor vehicle driven in New York must wear seat belts, regardless of their age (the old law required only children under 16 years of age to wear seat belts in the back seat) (see NY Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1229-c).

Here is a quick recap of NY seat belts laws:

FRONT SEAT PASSENGERS, regardless of age, must wear seat belts.

CHILD SAFETY SEATS are mandatory for children under the age of four years (there is an exception if the child weighs more than 40 pounds. In that case, the child may be placed in a booster seat). Children under the age of two years must be rear facing (there is an exception when the height and weight of the child exceeds the occupant size and weight recommended by the seat manufacturer of the rear facing seat. In that case, the child may be front facing in the child safety seat).

CHILD BOOSTER SEATS are mandatory for children between the ages of four years and eight years (there is an exception if the child is MORE than 4 ft 9 in in height or weighs MORE than 100 pounds).

07/22/2020

July 15, 2020, was the final day to file your 2019 taxes, and with the end of the filing season the Fort Drum Tax Assistance Program has also come to an end. We look forward to helping you with your 2020 tax returns next year. Assistance usually becomes available around February 1st each year. If you owed taxes for the 2019 tax year, or received an excessively large refund from the 2019 tax year, it is not too late to adjust your tax withholdings for the remainder of the 2020 tax year by filing a new W4 with your employer.

06/11/2020

In recent weeks, the United States Secret Service has received reports of fraud targeting State Unemployment Insurance programs. Banks and Credit Unions have experienced a rise in automatic electronic deposits from State Unemployment Insurance Programs. These deposits range from $4,000 to $10,000. To make these fraudulent deposits, scammers reach out to individuals using various tactics to get personal information including account and routing numbers.
Common tactics used include:
• Scammers pretending to be a close friend, family member, boyfriend, or girlfriend, residing out of state, who need your account details to receive unemployment benefits because they do not have access to their own bank.
• Scammers impersonating the State Unemployment office. The scammer will say you received the payment in error and must return the money immediately and ask for account details.
• Scammers also have asked individuals to withdraw money and send it back in the form of gift cards, cash, official bank checks, money orders and wire transfers. Unlike a check, which financial institutions often put holds on to ensure the check will clear, electronic deposits do not commonly have holds, providing targeted individuals full access to unauthorized funds immediately. Since funds are unauthorized, financial institutions are required to return the money. If a member has taken that money out of their account before the funds can be returned to the State, the member may be responsible for the full amount of money taken. If the money has been sent to a scammer through wire or gift cards, you may not get that money back.

To protect yourself from this scam, consider the following tips:
• If someone asks for personal information through email, text, or over the phone, including your account and routing number, do not provide it. Real financial institutions will already have your account information if they initiated contact with you.
• Verify where the person lives and works. Do they actually live or work in the state where their unemployment benefits are coming from?
• If someone asks you to send money via gift card, cash, or wire transfer money, do not do it. These methods are non-refundable are some of the most common ways a scammer asks you to send money.

Fort Drum Legal Assistance Office's cover photo
05/19/2020

Fort Drum Legal Assistance Office's cover photo

05/19/2020

We are happy to announce we have reopened for limited services. From Monday through Friday, between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m., or between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m., you may walk into Room A2-68 in Clark Hall for powers of attorney and notarizations. Attorney-client consultations will continue to be done by telephone, not face-to-face, until social distancing rules are relaxed. To make an appointment to speak with an attorney, please call 315-772-6587, Monday through Friday, between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m., or between 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The office will be closed on federal holidays and days of no scheduled activities (DONSAs).

04/20/2020

ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS. Here's what people should know about the Economic Impact Payments:

* The IRS will automatically deposit Economic Impact Payments into the bank account taxpayers provided on their 2019 or 2018 tax return for a direct deposit of their tax refund.
* Those without a direct deposit account on file may be able to provide their banking information online through a new secure tool, Get My Payment.
* Anyone who is eligible for an Economic Impact Payment and doesn't provide direct deposit information will receive a payment mailed to the last address the IRS has on file.
* The IRS does not charge a fee to issue the payment.

Be cautious - scammers may:

* Ask an individual to sign over their Economic Impact Payment check to them.
* Ask for verification of personal or banking information.
* Suggest that they can get someone tax refund or Economic Impact Payment faster by working on their behalf.
* Issue a bogus check, often in an odd amount, then tell a person to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.

04/20/2020

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS-RELATED SCAMS. Taxpayers should be on the lookout for IRS impersonation calls, texts and email phishing attempts about the coronavirus or COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments. These scams can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft.

Here's what taxpayers should know:

* The IRS will not call, email or text you to verify or request your financial, banking or personal information.
* Watch out for websites and social media attempts to request money or personal information. The official website is IRS.gov.
* Don't open surprise emails that look like they're coming from the IRS or click on attachments or links.
* Taxpayers should not provide personal or financial information or engage with potential scammers online or over the phone.

04/15/2020

NATIONAL HEALTHCARE DECISION DAY. Thursday, April 16, 2020, is National Healthcare Decision Day, a day to inspire and educate the public about the importance of advance medical directives. Advance medical directives are legal documents people sign to ensure their wishes for medical care and treatment are followed if, for whatever reason, they become unable to make their own decisions (for example, they are unconscious, heavily medicated, suffering from dementia, comatose, etc.). There are two types of advance medical directives – “living wills” and “health care proxies” (also known in some states as medical powers of attorney or durable powers of attorney for health care). The format and content of advance medical directives vary from state to state, but the purpose and intent of the documents are recognized by all states.

A living will is a signed, witnessed (and sometimes notarized) document that instructs an attending physician to withhold or withdraw medical interventions from its signer if the signer is in a terminal condition and is unable to make decisions about medical treatment. A health care proxy is a very similar document, but goes one step further than a living will by appointing a particular person to be the signer’s health care decision-maker. In other words, the document is a medical power of attorney that appoints an agent to act and speak on behalf of the signer when the signer is temporarily or permanently unable to communicate with medical staff. An agent must be chosen with care since the agent will have great power and authority to make decisions about whether health care will be provided, withheld or withdrawn from the signer. It is extremely important that the signer carefully discuss his or her values, wishes and instructions with the agent. New York State adopted the health care proxy format over the living will format in Public Health Law section 2981.

An advance medical directive is an important part of estate planning, and many people have an advance medical directive prepared when they have a will prepared. However, an advance medical directive is an entirely separate legal document from a will, and you can have one prepared anytime by making an appointment with a Fort Drum Legal Assistance Attorney by calling the phone number above.

MILTAX ON MILITARY ONESOURCE.  Our office received a report that some Servicemembers trying to prepare Schedule E using ...
04/08/2020
Military OneSource – Support for Military Personnel & Families

MILTAX ON MILITARY ONESOURCE. Our office received a report that some Servicemembers trying to prepare Schedule E using MilTax on Military OneSource were re-directed to a paid version of the H&R Block software. This is not supposed to happen. H&R Block is addressing the issue and, if not already corrected, should be soon. Military OneSource is a terrific resource where Soldiers and their Families can access free tax preparation software to prepare their own income tax returns. https://www.militaryonesource.mil/

Military resource website providing 24/7 support for military personnel, spouses, family members and survivors on taxes, moving, spouse employment, MWR and more.

04/08/2020

STILL NEED TO FILE YOUR TAXES? As you have probably heard, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the extension of the filing and payment deadline to July 15, 2020, extending the filing season by an additional 90 days. The extension was granted because numerous VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) tax preparation sites, like the one at Fort Drum, have canceled or postponed their face-to-face operations because of the COVID-19 crisis. But if you would rather not wait until VITA sites reopen to file your taxes, the Fort Drum Legal Assistance Office now has the ability to help you if your taxable income is $66,000 or less!

The IRS recently authorized an alternative filing method for VITA sites to prepare tax returns for the remainder of this filing season. This method is called the “Expanded Virtual VITA/TCE Process.” This process was developed for taxpayers to be serviced with no in-person contact, and is available only for the remainder of this tax filing season. The Expanded Virtual VITA/TCE Process requires the following steps:

(1) THE TAXPAYER MUST CONSENT TO THE VIRTUAL PROCESS. You must agree to participate in the Expanded Virtual VITA/TCE Process by signing Form 14446 (Virtual VITA/TCE Taxpayer Consent). You must sign the form, scan it, and send it to us by email.

(2) THE TAXPAYER MUST COMPLETE THE INTAKE FORM. You must complete Form 13614-C (Intake/Interview and Quality Review), scan it, and send it to us by email.

(3) THE TAXPAYER MUST PROVIDE PHOTO IDENTIFICATION AND TAXPAYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBERS. You must scan a valid form of photo ID for each adult taxpayer (drivers license, passport, etc.) and the Social Security Card of every adult AND child included in your tax return, and send it to us by email.

(4) THE TAXPAYER MUST PROVIDE ALL TAX RELATED DOCUMENTS. You must scan your all tax documents (W2s, 1099s, etc.), and send them back to us by email. After we receive all your documents, we will prepare your federal and state tax returns. Once we complete the returns, we will call you to review your return telephonically.

(5) THE TAXPAYER MUST CONSENT TO ELECTRONIC FILING OF THE RETURN. After the telephonic review of your return with our tax preparer, you must sign Form 8879 (IRS e-file Signature Authorization), scan it, and send it to us by email. When the Legal Assistance Office in Room A2-68, Clark Hall, reopens, you will be able to come in and pick-up a copy of your return for your records.

THE CHOICE TO TRANSMIT DOCUMENTS ELECTRONICALLY TO THE LEGAL ASSISTANCE OFFICE IS SOLELY THAT OF THE TAXPAYER. BECAUSE THE TRANSMITTED INFORMATION IS SENSITIVE IN NATURE, YOU SHOULD ONLY TRANSMIT THE INFORMATION BY A SECURE/ENCRYPTED EMAIL.

Remember, this is simply an alternative filing method temporarily authorized by the IRS allowing us to prepare your tax with no in-person contact. When we are able to return to work, we hope to once again provide in-person tax preparation services up until July 15th. If you would like to use the Expanded Virtual VITA/TCE Process, please 315-772-6587, Mon-Fri, from 8:30-11:30 a.m., and 1:00-4:00 p.m., to start the process.

Address

Room A2-68, Clark Hall, Building P-10720, Mt Belvedere Blvd
Fort Drum, NY
13602-5100

Opening Hours

Monday 08:30 - 16:00
Tuesday 08:30 - 16:00
Wednesday 08:30 - 16:00
Thursday 08:30 - 16:00
Friday 08:30 - 16:00

Telephone

(315) 772-5261

Alerts

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Our Story

HOURS OF OPERATION: • Mon - Fri, 0830-1600 • Closed on Federal Holidays & DONSAs APPOINTMENTS: • Appointments are made up to one week out by either calling (315) 772-5261 or by stopping by our office at Room A2-68 in Clark Hall, between 0830 and 1600, Monday through Friday. Appointments fill very quickly, so call or stop by early. • Powers of attorney, notarizations, and a variety of informational pamphlets are available on a walk-in basis. All other matters require an appointment. ELIGIBLE CLIENTS: • Active Component members of the Armed Forces and their Family Members. • Reserve Component members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty more than 29 days, and their Family Members. • Active and Reserve Component members of the Armed Forces who are receiving military retirement or disability pay ("gray" card retired Reserve Component members are not eligible for assistance). • Department of Defense civilian employees against whom pecuniary liability has been recommended under AR 735-5. • Department of Defense civilian employees who are to deploy to a combat zone, but only for matters related to their imminent deployment.

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