Resources for Military to Thrive this Tax Season
Tax season is here! This dreaded time of the year doesn’t have to be so bad, especially for military families. Military and their families get to take advantage of free tax filing, free access to tax consultants, special tax exemptions, and when eligible, extra time to file. Now that the military W-2 forms are out, it’s a good idea to explore these military tax resources and prepare to file your 2019 tax return.
List of Tax Resources for the U.S. Military
This is probably the most important benefit that all military should take advantage of. Paying a professional to prepare your tax filing can conservatively cost around $250, and most civilian financial advisors aren’t experts when it comes to rules and exemptions that apply to the military.
Through Military OneSource and the DoD, MilTax offers free tax services for the military, including easy-to-use tax preparation and e-filing software, personalized support from tax consultants and current info about filing taxes in the military. The e-filing software is available mid-January through mid-October and the software is self-paced.
Through MilTax you can also find free military tax assistance & filing. This free assistance is available online as well as at CONUS/OCONUS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance locations (VITA). These advisors are trained to help military personnel, therefore, they know what to look for to get every deduction as well as ensure that nothing gets left out.
Even if you want to prepare your filing on your own, you can utilize this resource by having them double-check your work to ensure that you didn’t miss anything.
TurboTax Military Discount
** UPDATED **
It has recently come to light that while there is free filing available through TurboTax, they’re making it difficult for military families to utilize the free service and effectively directing users to a paid feature. To read more, please go here.
TurboTax also offers military discounts for military e-filing their taxes. Service members in ranks E-1 to E-5 can file both federal and state taxes for FREE with the TurboTax Online Free Edition or Online Deluxe offerings.
E-6 and above receive a $5 discount on all TurboTax federal products.
At TaxSlayer, you can file your federal returns for free when using TaxSlayer Classic. They state that all tax situations and all forms are included.
At TaxAct you can get free federal and state filing for all members of the military. It will be free for Basic, Deluxe, Premier, and Self-Employed.
Free Federal Tax Filing For Military
The IRS provides free federal tax filing. Depending on your income, you might also be eligible to take advantage of free state filing options as well.
Individuals with an income of less than $66,000 can utilize the free online software and file online. Individuals with an income above $66,000 have free fillable forms available to them.
At FreeTaxUSA, everyone, including active and former military can receive free federal filing. They can also help with military tax breaks and more.
Military Tax Exclusions
Military personnel and their families also have a lot of different exclusions they can take advantage of when filing their taxes. If you want to learn a lot about filing your taxes, reading through the Armed Forces’ Tax Guide will be extremely informative and helpful.
Different things to consider that correlate to an exclusion/adjustment include:
- Travel Expenses
- Moving Expenses
- IRA Contributions
- Income for Armed Forces members in combat zones
- Do you have children?
- First-time homebuyers
Spouses Can Choose State Residency
A new law took effect on Dec. 31, 2018, that allows military spouses to take their service member’s legal residence for state and local tax purposes, as well as to vote. This could significantly help some couples’ tax burden this year and moving forward. To read more, go here.
The law applies retroactively to all taxes paid in 2018 so families that choose to take advantage of this new law could see significant refunds.
Extra Time to File Your Tax Return Available
Extra time to file your tax return may be allowed if you are stationed abroad or are in a combat zone during the tax filing season.
Military who are:
- Serving in a combat zone
- Serving outside of a combat zone, in direct support of military operations in a combat zone
- On deployment, while participating in a contingency operation
- Hospitalized outside of the U.S. due to an injury or disease contracted while serving in a combat zone or contingency operation
- Missing in action or a prisoner of war as a result of serving in a combat zone or contingency operation
To find out if you qualify, reach out to your nearest VITA location or explore the Armed Forces Tax Guide here.
UPDATE: The IRS Updates Military Tax Benefits Guide
Good news for members of the military. The IRS has released a newly-revised tax guide to help members of the military understand the different tax benefits under the law.
This guide was posted on the IRS.gov website with useful tips for all members of the military, including reservists and the national guard. There is very important information in this guide, such as what the special benefits for those serving in a combat zone are and figuring out refunds as well as reservist-related travel expenses. Basically, anything you need to know as a military service member.
You can see the new guide here!