Filing taxes can be a little tricky for service members and their families. If you are a service member or filing taxes on behalf of a service member, here are some items to get you started.
For service members
- File returns in your permanent home state. You have to pay state taxes to your home state, if you are stationed somewhere other than your permanent home address. For example, if your legal state of residency is Nevada, but you’re stationed in California, you will file state taxes in Nevada, if applicable. Some states don’t make the active duty military pay state taxes. Check your home state tax office for more information.
- Access your tax statement online.Your military W-2 will be available for viewing and printing before your mailed version comes.
- Include a copy of a power of attorney if filing for a deployed service member. Attach a copy of the power of attorney to the tax return. You may use Internal Revenue Service Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative.
- Other questions? Check out the Internal Revenue Service Armed Forces’ Tax Guide.
- File a state tax return for the state where you are employed, in most cases, if you work outside your home state. However, you may be qualified for the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act . The act states that spouses do not have to pay income tax to the current state where they are employed if they live with their service member in that state because of military orders. Visit the Internal Revenue Service for more specific information and to see if you qualify for this tax relief.
Combat zone and hazardous duty deadline extensions
The IRS extends filing deadlines for service members for the following reasons:
- Serving in a combat zone or in direct support of those in a combat zone and receive hostile fire or imminent danger pay.
- Hospitalized outside the US because of injuries suffered in a combat zone or hazardous duty area.
If you plan or need to file your taxes after April 15, request an extension for your federal taxes without a penalty.
Your command will notify the Internal Revenue Service of your deployment to a combat zone, but you may want to notify them directly through the special email address — email@example.com. Include your name, stateside address, birth date and date of deployment. You may also call the IRS main helpline at 800-829-1040. Should the IRS send a notice for collection or examination, return the notice with the words “combat zone” and deployment date written in red at the top of the notice and on the envelope so the IRS will suspend the action.
Getting help with your taxes
You can file your taxes on base through the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program. Volunteers help you prepare and file your taxes at no cost to you or your eligible family members. Check with your legal assistance office to see if your installation offers this service. If you decide to use a VITA volunteer, be sure to make an appointment to save time.
If you decide to see a private tax preparer, make sure they are familiar with the Internal Revenue Service Armed Forces’ Tax Guide and has experience filing returns for service members and their family members.
On Your Own
If you choose to file taxes on your own, there are some programs that offer discounts to military personnel. Most of the time they will be free federal filing or free if your taxes are pretty straight forward. Be sure to read the fine print.
Below are the following documents with you when you meet with any tax preparer:
- Military ID
- All W-2 and 1099 forms
- Social Security number(s) and date(s) of birth for you, your spouse and other eligible family members
- Child care, education and adoption costs documentation
- Form 1099 for independent contractors
- Investment income forms
- Alimony information
- Social Security benefits information
- Miscellaneous income forms
- Form 1098-E for student loan interest
- Form 1098 for home mortgage interest
- Charitable donations receipts
- Medical and dental expense bills
- Real estate tax documents
- Receipts for any deductible expenses
Before sending your tax forms to the IRS, remember to do the following:
- Check and recheck the figures
- Verify the Social Security numbers
Some Information courtesy of militaryonesource.mil