10 Tax Breaks Exclusively Available For The Military

Service member hugs his family

This article is up to date through tax year 2017 (returns filed in 2018). Please note that some of the laws mentioned below may have changed if you are filing for tax year 2018 or later.

As proud supporters of the military, we want to help broadcast the benefits the military receives to help make sure you get the most out of your taxes. While they aren’t exactly secret, we don’t want you to miss out if you weren’t aware of these benefits! 

1. Extra time to file your return

If you are unable to file your taxes in time due to working in a combat zone, you can postpone some tax deadlines. Don’t feel pressured to file now improperly, see if you qualify to get an extension. 

2. Combat pay exclusion

If you received income while serving in a combat zone, your combat pay is legally partially or fully tax-free. This can even apply if you served in support of a combat zone, so check to see if you qualify! 

3. Moving expense deduction

Have you been permanently moved as a result of being re-stationed? If so, as a member of the military you may be able to deduct some of your unreimbursed moving costs on Form 3903. Read also: Military PCS Tax Questions and Answers.

4. Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

If you choose, you can include your nontaxable combat pay with your Earned Income Tax Credit. By boosting your EITC, you can owe less taxes or even get a larger refund. Since most taxpayers never reach their maximum amount, this can be a significant boon. Learn more.

5. Signing joint returns

If your spouse is absent due to military service, the IRS will normally allow for one member of a household to sign instead of both. Make sure that you qualify and have the legal right to do so first, but this should make it easier to file. 

6. Reservists’ travel deduction

Did you travel more than 100 miles away from home for reserve-related travel in 2017? If so, you can deduct your unreimbursed travel expenses. 

7. Uniform deduction

Make sure you keep track of the costs and upkeep for your uniform. While it is limited to specific uniforms, you can’t wear while off duty, you can deduct the out of pocket costs that weren’t covered by allowances. 

8. ROTC allowances

Were you in ROTC during 2017? If so, your allowances for education and subsistence could be non-taxable. Active duty ROTC and pay for summer advanced camp are both taxable though, so check in advance! 

9. Civilian life

Even if you leave the military and try to find another job, you may qualify to deduct some job search expenses, such as the cost of travel or resume and job placement agency fees. 

10. Free federal tax filing

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