Tax season is upon us! Tax. For a lot of us, it is the most dreaded word in the English language.
There is no need to dread. I am here to give you some motivation, tips, and reminders to execute your military taxes like a pro and get the most out of your taxes. Military taxes are not all that different than civilian taxes. Just go step by step and you will be just fine.
There is nothing all that stressful about getting taxes done. It is all about following each step with precision and double checking your work.
Remember that there is always free help when doing your family’s military taxes. Do a quick Google search to find your base’s designated tax center & hours. They prioritize those who are deploying 1st. Pros: It is free done by an accountant. Cons: Some people can only go on a Saturday which means line wrap around the building since ours is open only 2 Saturdays per month.
Most bases have H&R Block. If you are the type that wants nothing to do with DIY taxes, you can pay a fee for an accountant to get the most out of your return. PROS: You do not have to handle paperwork. Cons: You lose money that could have been pocketed. #
My all time favorite Tax tool to get the job done is Turbo Tax. It is a DIY tool that is completely free if you select the one without all the features. However military can upgrade your Turbo tax to the deluxe version for free . Pretty sweet, right? I am a DIY tax filer. I want to pocket all the money we earned. As I said above. It is all about carefully following steps and double checking. TurboTax walks you through it #notsponsored
While we are on the topic of tools for taxes I must warn you-even if you already know. Beware of fraudulent accountants near military bases that claim they can get your taxes done. The command should always warn everyone. These people still get over on servicemembers every year. Just stay away-even if they sound persuasive.
PAPERWORK, EXPERIENCE & BENEFITS: Think of all the things you have gone through this past year, raising children, child birth, medical expenses, pharmacy bills, investments, inheritances, donations, deployment, PCS, College + expenses etc. Collect any official documentation and sort it all because you could be looking at some huge tax breaks, credits, and returns.
Children & college will probably be your biggest tax break and refund by far.
Deployment last year or this year? If yes, then you qualify your an extension. I would not recommend this unless necessary, but it is a benefit. Deployment will also be listed on his taxes. If in a tax free zone (combat or hazard) you are looking at a tax break.
Did you buy a new computer to help with your child’s homework, your college, job search, or servicemember’s job needs? Look back at your bank statements and find the date and cost. You may claim this on your taxes. This contributed to my tax return last year.
Did you buy or lease a car? Tax break.
Were you in an accident or experience a disability?
Affected by the recent natural disasters going on around the country. We were and that is something you must list. This might not give you a tax break due to all the conditons, but you never know.
If you are deploying get that POA that gives your spouse permission to get the taxes done. It is easy to over look. Nothing is worse than having your hands tied.
Remember that you cannot claim uniform expenses-including purchases, medals, chevrons, cleaning, maintenance etc. It’s unfair because uniform allowance is not even enough to cover expenses.
Remember back in ITB when your combat instructor got all the new Marines to sign up for monthly donations to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society? Claim it!
PCS this year? Closely gather every amount you spent on your trip. Especially if it was a DIY. This one is always a bit iffy, but that is why you want to look for receipts or go into your bank statement. Record everything.
Did you take care of a family member for a period of time that took up a lot of expenses? That will contribute to a possible refund.
A list of things to bring with you to Base or H&R Block to expedite the process.
- Military Identification Card(s)
- Social Security Card(s) for yourself and anyone you intend to claim on your taxes
- Power of Attorney (e.g., Married Filing Joint, Spouse Deployed)
- Last Year’s Federal and State Tax Returns
- Economic Stimulus Payment IRS Notice CP 1378 (to obtain required information visit IRS.GOV to obtain a printout of what you received it can be used in lieu of CP 1378)
- Wage statements – Form W-2
- Pension or Retirement Income – Form 1099R
- Record of Purchase or Sale of Residence
- Alimony Paid or Received (Payer’s/Payee’s Name and Social Security Number)
- IRA Contributions
- Student Loan Interest - Form 1098-E
- Rental Income and expenses
- Interest and Dividend Income – Form 1099-INT/ Form-1099-DIV
- State Income Tax Refund Amount – Form 1099-G
- Social Security Income – Form SSA-1099
- Unemployment Income – Form 1099-G
- Commissions Received/Paid information on sales of Stocks or Bonds – Form 1099-B
- Self-Employment Business Income & expenses and any Form 1099-MISC
- Lottery or Gambling Winnings Form W-2G
- Income from Partnerships, S Corporations
- Trusts and Estates-Schedule K-1