WWW.Huh?: IRS Site Answers Military Taxpayer Questions
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2001 Doing taxes if you are in the military can be confusing. What do you report as income? If you were stationed in Bosnia or Kosovo for three months or were aboard ship in the Med, how much of your pay is taxable? How are moving expenses treated?
The answers to these and many other tax questions unique to military service are on the Internal Revenue Service Web site in the Armed Forces Tax Guide. Go to http://www.irs.gov/forms_pubs/pubs/p3toc.htm and start reading. [link no longer available]
The publication addresses a slew of military tax issues such as areas declared as combat zone exclusions and how to handle income earned by resident alien spouses. It lists what income is taxable and, more important, what is not. It lists exemptions and how to qualify for them.
Service members can request an extension for filing an income tax return if they meet certain provisions. The publication tells how to apply.
Speaking of returns, the IRS this year lets you file electronically, free and directly. You still need compliant computer software and forms, but you don't need to file through a tax preparer or other middleman unless you choose. "E-file" instructions are at http://www.irs.ustreas.gov/elec_svs/efile-ind.html.
Need forms? You can get those over the Internet at the IRS forms page at http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html. Select a document format and then download all the forms you want.
Need a form, but not sure which one? Go to a forms searcher at http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html and enter some key words. The search engine will point you to the right area.
How do you handle state taxes? The IRS forms page has a link to a state tax page prepared by Federation of Tax Administrators, or go there directly by manually keying http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/forms.ssi. Click "Local and State News" at the IRS site tree, http://www.irs.gov/search/site_tree.html, for links to individual state tax news pages and information about joint electronic federal-state tax filing.
States that also allow direct Internet tax filing include Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and Vermont.