April is a very fun month—temperatures are rising in most parts of the United States, people can get back outside, and schools are starting to wind down. April is also the month of the federal and state income tax deadline—April 15th, if you are still unaware (hopefully that’s not you).
If you are a military service member or military spouse, taxes can be very confusing. Military tax laws get increasingly complicated the longer you are in the service or part of a military family. I am personally six moves removed from my home of record, so figuring out where I should pay taxes can get confusing every time I relocate. I am in no way a tax professional and will always recommend that you talk to one because each situation is uniquely different. What is your state of residence? Where did you earn income? Where should you pay taxes on that income? Is any of your income tax-free? For those who bought property at a duty station and now rent it out because they moved, taxes can be even more complicated.
I recently came across this article published by MarketWatch on “5 tax land mines active-duty military must avoid.” Some I knew, while others I was unaware of until reading this piece by Anthony P. Curatola. Again, I am not a tax professional and if you have questions, you should work with someone whose job it is to decipher the tax code and see how it applies to you.
Some of the points that Curatola makes can be applied to anyone filing taxes but may just come up more in military families. Others are specific to the military. For example, everyone can file for an extension if they need more time to get their documents together, but military members (and their spouses) who are assigned outside of the U.S. or Puerto Rico get an automatic extension of two months without needing to complete the form.
For those serving in a combat zone, there are other extension guidelines. Curatola mentions that it involves a “complex calculation.” When I did some digging on the IRS website, I found the Extension of Deadlines-Combat Zone Service FAQ page. And yes—there are a lot of “in general” statements that I think make it a good idea to consult with a tax pro if you think these deadlines may apply. Basically, if you are serving in a combat zone, you may get a filing extension but the specific length of time will depend on when you entered that combat zone relative to tax day. There is also an impact to how much of your pay is taxed as well as what tax credits you may be able to receive if you are serving in a combat zone.
If you haven’t filed your taxes, make sure that you get everything in by April 15, perhaps with the help of a tax pro.