Tax season can be a dreaded time of year for many people, but the Defense Department's Military OneSource offers the MilTax program to ease filing stress for service members and their families.
There is no need to worry about costs in tax preparation because the services are free.
MilTax kicks off on Military OneSource on Jan. 22, offering electronic filing via do-it-yourself software and personalized support from a tax consultant.
Those who qualify to use the free MilTax program are active-duty service members and their families, National Guard members and reservists, survivors and veterans who have left the service in the last 365 days, said Kelly Smith, a program analyst with DOD's Military Community and Family Policy.
Smith emphasized that whether filing on one's own or seeking out assistance from a tax consultant, MilTax services are available year-round for extensions and circumstances unique to the military community.
''It is important for service members and families to know that they have options when it comes to support during tax-filing season,'' she said.
''[Services are] offered well past the tax deadline,'' she said, noting that some service members may file extensions, have additional properties, are looking to sell their homes and other situations that are unique to military members.
''Tax consultants can let our families know 'how to maximize their refund,''' she added.
A particular advantage of using MilTax is the military tax expertise that the Military OneSource tax consultants bring with them to each session.
They are certified public accountants or enrolled IRS agents, she said. They are knowledgeable about costs incurred during permanent changes of station, living in more than one state during the year, how to navigate benefits survivors may be entitled to, and other military-specific issues.
The tax consultants are up to date on tax-law changes that would affect service members.
''Something we're constantly working on and striving to do within [military community and family policy] is to raise awareness about the services that are offered through Military OneSource, so we're constantly letting people know what's available, and that support is essentially an entitlement to them to help them live their best military life,'' Smith said.
To use MilTax beginning Jan. 22, go to MilTax or call 800-342-9647 or live chat to schedule an appointment with a Military OneSource tax consultant.