5 Military Tax Benefits

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Members of the United States Armed Forces qualify for some special tax benefits, including provisions related to moving for military service or serving in active duty.

Here are five benefits you should be aware of as a member of the military:

  1. Some military income and benefits are not included in taxable income.

    You do not have to pay income tax on combat pay. You also do not pay tax on many military benefits, including:

    • Group-term life insurance
    • Professional education
    • Uniform allowances
    • Death allowances
    • Certain education allowances for dependents
    • Allowances for family travel
    • Basic allowances for housing, subsistence, and overseas housing
    • Dependent care assistance
  2. You may have extra time to file your return if you are serving overseas.

    If you are a member of the troops serving overseas, you have an extra two months to file your federal income tax return. You can file your 2013 tax return any time up to June 16, 2014, without filing for an extension.

    If you are serving in a combat zone, you have even more time to file your return. You are allowed 180 days from the date you return from the combat zone, or 180 days from your last date of continuous hospitalization for injuries received while serving in a combat zone. These 180 days are in addition to the number of days you had left to file the return when you entered the combat zone.

    The IRS does not add interest or penalties to your taxes during this extension.

  3. Earned Income Credit provisions.

    Most taxpayers must live in the United States to qualify for the Earned Income Credit. However, if you are a member of the armed forces and are stationed outside the U.S. on extended active duty, you may still qualify for the Earned Income Credit.

  4. You can keep your home state for tax purposes when you are in the military.

    In the past, moving frequently for military service meant filing state income tax returns for each state in which you lived. Thanks to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), you can keep your home state residence for tax purposes, regardless of where you live due to military orders. You cannot be taxed on military income by any state other than your home state. The home state you have on file with the military will withhold state income tax from your pay.

    If you are a spouse of a military member, you can also keep your home state for income tax purposes.

  5. Deduct military moving expenses.

    Most people who work as employees or as self-employed individuals must pass a time test and a distance test to deduct moving expenses. If you are in the military and you have expenses for which you are not reimbursed, you can deduct qualified expenses regardless of how long you work at the new location or the distance between your old house and your new job.