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.
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Thankfully, military personnel and their families have access to a variety of tax preparation and filing services for free. Whether you choose to file taxes yourself online or you prefer some outside assistance from a trained professional, there are a variety of free options to choose from.
Military Installation Tax Centers
Most 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 benefits.
Click here to contact your local installation for more information about location of tax centers, hours of operation, scheduling appointments, and necessary documentation.
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Liberty Tax Service is also offering Military.com members a new customer discount of $50 off income tax preparation. Click here to print out the coupon and take it to participating Liberty offices with a valid military ID.
Jackson Hewitt is offering a $50 prepaid Visa Gift Card on your tax prep fees when visiting a location in person. Or get a 25% off discount on your online tax return preparation.
Online Tax Preparation
Military OneSource provides free access to the H&R Block at Home online tax filing service for military families. This service allows military members to complete and electronically file federal and up to 3 state tax returns. This is available for active duty service members, National Guard and Reserve, and spouses. You must have a Military OneSource account. The Military OneSource no-cost online tax preparation and filing service launches January 13, 2015.
IRS Free File is a program available to taxpayers whose Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is $60,000 or less. This program helps you find a Free File company that’s best for you out of the numerous companies that participate and offers fillable forms when preparing your own tax returns. Free file opens January 16, 2015.
TaxSlayer has a free military edition for active duty service members to prepare federal and state returns online.
TurboTax offers discounts on its software that’s customized for active duty military and reservists. Servicemembers with pay grades of E1-E5 can get the software for free, while pay grades of E6 through all officer pay grades can get the software at a discounted price.
Taxbrain offers a 20% military discount when filing your tax return. Be aware the package price varies depending on answers to their questionnaire.
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.
-- Heather Sweeney can be reached at Heather.Sweeney@monster.com.