Well, it’s tax time (and Mardi Gras but we won’t talk about that… sigh) and the posts and tweets about W’s are being posted with full force. Everyone is anxious to get them done and out of the way but, where should you go to have your taxes filed? Should you tackle them yourself? Oh and what about the two jobs in two different states you worked in that you aren’t a resident of? UGH!! Taxes… They can be such a pain for military families. We’ve had our share of tax problems because my musician husband plays in bands outside of the military. Plus, I’ve heard the stories from spouses about their tax drama with their jobs. So here are tips and resources to help you through your tax drama.
1. Use Military OneSource’s portal for H & R Block. Many, many people know that H&R Block will file taxes for free for military members but be careful about any fees; make sure the consult knows you’re a military family. However, the Military OneSource page has lots and lots of information plus a 24 hour hotline where you can ask questions with representatives that know the military rights well. We’ve used this service and were very happy with it!
2. Look to see if your local installation is offering tax services. Most installations will have some sort of tax center set up so that you can hand over all those W’s, 1099’s, etc and not worry about doing anything. Often times it is call V.I.T.A (volunteer installation tax assistance). This is my favorite because like I said we have tax drama. My husband always has 1099’s from jobs outside the Navy plus I’m not a resident of his home of record and I don’t have a paying job. So, we let the experts do it for us.
3. Spouses, know your tax rights!!! The Military Spouse Residency Relief Act (MSRRS) can protect military spouses from paying state taxes. However, like with all things there are parts that apply and parts that don’t. Read it over and print a copy to keep handy when filing your taxes!
4. Know what can and can’t be reimbursable. There are some cost accrued do to things like PCS or owning a home that can be reimbursed. Military OneSource has that information available as does legal and the local installation tax center. If you think you could be reimbursed save your receipts and ask when filing taxes. But, remember NOT all things are able to be reimbursed!
5. Have a plan for your reimbursement. It’s so easy to see that check and want to spend it on luxury items but try not to. You can pay into investments like IRAs without being taxed before the April 15th (or is it 16th) filing deadline. If you are living paycheck to paycheck this is a good way to pay off debt and put money into savings. With the uncertainty of jobs in the military for so many making use of your tax reimbursement financially is the best plan! But, using a little for that much needed mattress is good, too.
In a nutshell know your tax rights as a military family. If you are a spouse and know you don’t have to pay state taxes then don’t and fight it. If you were in a natural disaster do to your duty station and had to pay out of pocket expenses for anything it’s worth asking about. But, don’t try and scam the system because there is this thing call “karma” and it can bite in the you know where……