Free military tax return
- Active duty members can file their taxes for free through several online platforms.
- Many offer free tax filing at the federal and state level, but the requirements vary.
- MilTax, operated in partnership with the Department of Defense, offers all members of the service a free deposit no matter what.
- This article has been edited for accuracy and clarity by Luis Rosa, an expert on the Personal Finance Insider Tax Review Committee.
- View Personal Finance Insider’s Picks For The Best Tax Software »
While the New Year is often accompanied by renewed optimism and resolutions, it also marks the start of tax season. By April 18, 2022, most Americans are required to file their income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service for the 2021 tax year.
For the military – including active duty, the Reserve, and members of the National Guard – paying to have your taxes paid isn’t a sacrifice your family has to make. There are several ways to file your tax return for free.
From using MilTax online to the help of a trained volunteer expert, there are many ways that you may not be aware of that can help you save money on tax returns.
How to declare taxes in the army?
Knowing exactly how and when to file taxes can be confusing if you’re in the military, especially if your duty station changes during the tax year. Fortunately, the IRS has a useful tool that will let you see the different organizations it partners with to offer free tax returns. You will be able to enter your information and select the tax service that suits you.
After choosing the program you want to use, you will be directed to specialized software that will guide you through filing your tax return. You will need to have all of your documents handy – this includes personal information, such as your social security number, and employment information, such as your W-2.
If you’ve moved mid-year or been deployed to a combat zone, you’ll likely have additional tax needs these programs can help you navigate.
Can the military file their taxes for free?
Most uniformed service members are eligible for free tax filing services through the US Department of Defense. Enlisted members and officers of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, National Guard, and Air National Guard – including active duty and Reservists – can use one of two federally sponsored programs for free.
The free tax return is also available for members of the Coast Guard, as well as for those who have recently left the military. Retired military personnel and those who have been honorably released can access free federal and state tax filing services for up to 180 days after discharge. Spouses of military personnel, dependent children and survivors of members can also use the free services.
1. You can file through the IRS Free File Program
While not exclusive to the military, the IRS Free File Program allows many families to do their taxes for free. Military families who earn less than $ 72,000 per year can use the IRS Free File program to file their federal taxes free of charge using their computer, tablet or smartphone.
Anyone can get started on the IRS Free File website. However, although the program is sponsored by the IRS, you will not receive your taxes from the agency. Instead, you’ll be directed to one of nine companies that will help you complete your tax returns, file them for free, and get your refund. Tax companies include Intuit (owner of TurboTax), TaxACT, and TaxSlayer.
While the IRS Free File may be the most direct way for the military to pay their taxes for free, it does have some limitations. If your adjusted gross income is greater than $ 72,000, you will not be eligible to use the services. In addition, the program only covers federal income tax returns. If you’ve been moved from one duty station to another in multiple states, you may need to pay to complete all of your state declarations.
2. You can use MilTax or CG SUPRT
MilTax is a joint service offered by Military OneSource and the Department of Defense. It is available to all active duty, reserve and National Guard members, as well as recently separated veterans.
Unlike other services offered, MilTax will provide free federal returns and up to three states no matter how much money you make or where you live. With custom options developed for the military, MilTax takes care of all the complex tax situations you will find yourself in as a member of the service. This includes free state deposits for up to three different states as well as OCONUS life and even rental management.
If you are a member of the Coast Guard and do not operate under Title 10 authority, you can still file your taxes for free. CG SPURT offers free tax return services for active duty members, certain Reservists (excluding Coast Guard Auxiliary) and their dependent family members.
Both MilTax and CG SUPRT are operated by H&R Block. You will need to create a Military OneSource account or an H&R Block online account to access the software. Once registered, you will be directed to tax preparation software before filing your return electronically.
3. Make a declaration to the Volunteer Tax Assistance Program
Going online isn’t the only way to get help filing your taxes for free. The Volunteer Tax Assistance Program (VITA) provides assistance to the military community through the Armed Forces Tax Board. In addition to having self-help kiosks on the bases, volunteers also make appointments for in-person assistance.
VITA volunteers can help with a number of common issues, including applying for earned income credit and answering questions about the combat zone benefits. They can also help with form preparation, advice, and free federal and state tax reporting.
To find the nearest VITA location, visit Military OneSource to find the nearest location. Eligible military personnel can either sit down to complete their tax returns or file their forms for an expert to file on their behalf.
4. You can go through other third party tax preparation programs
If you are not eligible for MilTax and you cannot meet a volunteer from the VITA program, you will still be able to file your taxes for free or at a reduced cost. Many online tax programs provide free or reduced cost services to military personnel and their families. Some of the offers come from well-known programs, including TurboTax.
- TurboTax: TurboTax offers free tax preparation and filing for federal returns and a state return. The free offer is limited to active duty and enlisted reserve members.
- TaxSlayer: All active duty military personnel can use TaxSlayer to prepare and file their federal income tax returns free of charge. Any return of condition will require additional charges.
- H&R Block: Through the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, military personnel, skilled veterans, and their families can get a 10% discount on tax preparation and filing services. The discount is only available at H&R Block stock exchange stores in the United States
- USAA: Members of the military, veterans, and families who are customers of the USAA may also have access to discounts. While active-duty and reserve enlisted members can file state and federal taxes for free with TurboTax, active-duty and reserve officers and other customers can earn up to $ 20 in rebate.
Military families make multiple sacrifices throughout the year, but paying to produce taxes shouldn’t be one of them. With so many ways to deposit for free, there is a program to help you with your unique situation.
While MilTax is the easiest option for most military families to get taxes for free, it is not the only one available. If you’ve had a very complicated year – which may include a change of duty station or a deployment – getting help from a VITA volunteer might help you find the most efficient way to file taxes.
If you are confused or have questions, there is also no shame in asking an expert for help. Before retaining the services of a tax advisor or certified public accountant, be sure to ask them about their experience with the military to make sure they have the expertise you need to navigate during winter season. taxes.