It’s that time of year that many people look forward to and dread…tax season. The deadline for filing federal income taxes is set for April 15 (April 17 if you live in Maine or Massachusetts). Luckily for military families, there are resources that help make this time less stressful.
A benefit that not many people are aware of is that active duty personnel qualify and have access to free tax filing and preparation services.
It’s important to remember where your legal residence is. It isn’t always the state where you are stationed. Establishing legal residency involves proving where you live and intend on continuing to live. Every state has its own set of rules for proving where you legally reside. The list below can help prove your legal residency:
- Getting or keeping your driver’s license
- Registering your vehicle(s)
- Paying state taxes, like income or property taxes
- Registering to vote
Filing On Your Own
If you are planning on filing your own taxes, there is MilTax Preparation and e-filing software available to you on the Military OneSource website. The software provider guarantees 100% accuracy while filing your taxes. Individuals that are eligible to use MilTax are all active-duty, Reserve and Guard members (regardless of activation status), their family members and survivors.
Another option is utilizing H&R Block for their services, with a 10% discount available to military members. This deal is only available at select Exchange options around the world.
A third option available (if you are a USAA member) is using TurboTax. Service members with the pay grades between E1-E5 qualify for free federal and state filing with Free Edition/Deluxe. All other ranks save up to $20 on federal products. All service members that have USAA can save up to $20 when filing their federal tax returns with Turbo Tax.
Help On The Military Installation
The majority of larger military installations offer service members and their families free tax filing assistance. This can be found through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. VITA is sponsored through the IRS, and the volunteers who assist in this program have more than 80 hours of training. They prepare both state and federal returns, and there is no limit on the number of state returns. VITA sites and locations have volunteers trained by the IRS to help assist military members with more military-specific tax situations/questions. Clients that are eligible to use VITA are all active-duty service members, retired members and their dependents.
Before starting on your taxes, make certain to have all the required documentation in order to ensure your filing process goes as smoothly as possible.
- Photo ID/Military ID
- Social security cards for you and each family member claimed on the return
- Wage and earning statement(s), such as Forms W-2, W-2G, and 1099-R
- Child care costs
- Investment income forms
- Receipts for charitable donations
- Receipts for deductible expenses
- Your bank routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit
- Last year’s returns
W-2 forms tend to be available for military members by the end of January and can be downloaded from MyPay website.
For any further questions, feel free to reach out to a MilTax consultant at 800-342-9647.
Deductions & Exclusions To Consider
- Uniform Deductions
- Combat Zone Tax Exclusions
- Living Allowances like BAH, BAS, and OHA
- Certain Educational Expenses
- Certain Job Search Expenses
- Certain Moving Expenses
- Certain Travel Expenses
- Death Gratuity
- In-kind Military Benefits such as dependent care assistance, commissary/exchange discounts, legal assistance, medical/dental care, space-available travel on government aircraft.