Tax season is here again. And while filing for tax returns can be tricky for the average family, it can get even more complicated for military families.
Thankfully, military personnel and their families have access to a variety of tax preparation and filing services for free or discounted prices. Whether you choose to file taxes yourself online or you prefer some outside assistance from a trained professional, there are a several free and discounted options to choose from.
Military Installation Tax Centers
Many large military installations worldwide offer service members and their families free income tax filing assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program which is sponsored by the IRS. VITA sites have volunteers that are trained by the IRS to provide assistance with some of the more complicated military-specific tax issues, such as combat zone tax exclusions.
Visit Military.com's Base Guide to contact your local installation for more information about location of tax centers, hours of operation, scheduling appointments, and necessary documentation.
Online Tax Preparation
Military OneSource provides free tax preparation and filing services and tax consultations through MilTax, a suite of free tax services for the military, including tax preparation and e-filing software, support from tax consultants and current information about filing taxes in the military. MilTax Preparation and e-Filing Software is available mid-January through mid-October.
IRS Free File Software allows you to prepare and file your federal individual income tax return for free using tax-preparation-and-filing software. If your income is below $69,000, you can file your taxes with free software and find free state return options. Use Free File Fillable Forms if your income is greater than $69,000. Free File software opens in January 2020.
TaxSlayer has a military offer that allows active-duty military to e-file a federal return for free. (State return is additional.)
TurboTax offers discounts on its software for enlisted military. All enlisted active-duty military and reservists can file both their federal and state taxes for free using any TurboTax Online products, which include Free Edition, Deluxe, Premier, and Self-Employed. The offer is not valid for officers and excludes TurboTax Live.
If you're a USAA member, you can save even more on TurboTax. For active-duty, E1-E5 file for no charge with TurboTax Free or Deluxe. All other ranks save up to $20 on federal products. All USAA members can save up to $20 when filing their federal tax returns with TurboTax.
Filing your taxes requires a lot of documents and personal information so make sure to collect everything you’ll need before you get started. The following is a list of some of those necessary records, but if you’re getting outside help, it’s best to call ahead to make sure you’re not forgetting anything.
- 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 are usually available for military members by the end of January and can be downloaded from MyPay website.
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