Filing income taxes isn’t most people’s idea of a fun way to spend a day, and making sense of military tax situations can be especially complex and tricky. Fortunately, there are a vast range of resources available to assist service members in this situation. Even military finance experts may be surprised to learn just how many! In this post, we’ll break down some of the available options and explain how they can help new military taxpayers and financial whizzes alike.
What is MilTax? It’s free, easy-to-use tax software designed specifically for service members. Service members can file federal and state forms electronically with the assurance that accuracy is guaranteed. MilTax, provided by Military OneSource, also offers free assistance from trained tax consultants, with extended hours during tax season. Learn more about MilTax here and here.
Commercial Tax Prep Discounts
Some people prefer to do their own taxes using a commercial service. For those in this category, TurboTax and H&R Block offer free and reduced-cost filing software and services to military service members. At TurboTax Military Edition, E1-E5 members receive free basic filing (more complex returns may incur charges) and members ranked E6 and above receive discounts. At TaxSlayer, active duty military save 50% on their returns.
Assistance Directly from the IRS
Of course, the IRS also offers a wealth of detailed information directly to taxpayers. While this information may be a bit more technical, sometimes it is extremely helpful to go to the source.
Tax Information for Members of the Military: This landing page provides access to the most up-to-date armed forces tax guide as well as information on various tax situations for current service members, veterans, and retirees.
It’s also useful to know about IRS Free File, a service which provides basic tax filing software to taxpayers earning less than $64,000 per year, and free online “fillable forms” to those earning more than this.
Most large military bases will offer free tax preparation from VITA, the Volunteer income Tax Assistance program. VITA is not just for the military—this tax assistance service is available to most taxpayers who earn less than $54,000 a year, as well as people with disabilities and limited English proficiency. While VITA volunteers cannot help with every tax situations (see this publication for more info), most service members with lower incomes should qualify.
(If a service member is not near a base, VITA is available in other locations as well, such as schools, libraries, and community centers. To find a VITA location, use this tool.)
AARP Tax Aide
AARP’s free volunteer-based Tax Aide services are intended for older adults and low- to moderate-income taxpayers. They may be especially appropriate for older veterans, but are available to all during tax season. To learn more about TaxAide, visit their site.