With April 15 coming up, it’s time to get ready to file your taxes again. And while it may not be a task you’re looking forward to, as a servicemember, you have access to several military-specific IRS programs and resources, tax deductions and benefits, and certain extensions if you are serving outside the U.S. or in a combat zone. Here are a few smart tips to help you get through another tax season.
Getting Ready to File
Before you start preparing your tax return, be sure to gather all the information and documents you’ll likely need. This will help alleviate some stress in the moment, knowing you’ve got the information at hand:
- Military ID
- Social Security Numbers (for each family member claimed)
- Wage and earning statements such as a W-2, W-2G or 1099-R
- Child care cost information
- Investment income documentation
- Receipts for charitable donations
- Receipts for deductible expenses like reasonable previously un-reimbursed moving expenses
- Bank routing and account numbers for direct deposit
- Last year’s tax returns
- W-2 forms for servicemembers are available after February 1. You can download them from MyPay.
When Can My Military Family Get a Filing Extension?
If you are serving outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico, you are automatically granted a two-month extension to file your returns. The deadline to file your 2023 tax return is June 17, 2024. If the extended deadline is still not enough time, you can request an automatic extension to October 15 by filing IRS Form 4868 by April 15. Be aware that the automatic extension is an extension to file your tax return, not an extension of time to pay any tax owed by the regular due date of the return. The IRS will still charge fees and interest for any late payments.
Combat Zone Filing Deadline Extension
Military members serving in a combat zone (learn more about combat zone tax extensions and exclusions in the Publication 3 (2014), Armed Forces' Tax Guide) have an automatic 180-day extension to file and pay, which begins once the service member leaves the combat zone.
State Taxes for Servicemembers
Most military allowances, including the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and VA benefits, are tax-free. Additionally, individual states offer tax exemptions for members of the military. Check this list to see what is offered in your state.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
VITA is an IRS-sponsored program available on most military bases and installations where IRS-trained volunteers are available to assist you with military-specific tax questions and issues you may have. To find your location-specific tax office details, check for information available on your base website.
Military OneSource Offers Free H&R Block Tax Service
Military OneSource offers assistance preparing taxes. If you're eligible, you'll be able to complete, save, and file your federal tax return, and up to three state returns, online at no cost.
Is Life Insurance Taxable?
Getting ready for tax season can be stressful. If you have questions regarding taxes on your life insurance, an AAFMAA Member Benefits representative may be able to help at 1-888-496-2379. For answers regarding your specific financial situation and before you make any decisions about how to handle your taxes you should always consult with your tax professional.
This article was originally published June 16, 2020.