A tax preparer works with customers.

Making Tax Filing Simple

T-A-X-E-S. It’s that time of the year again, and if there’s good news to be had, it’s that you have access to special assistance as a member of the military community in getting your taxes in order.

Service members and their families have earned something that few others have — easy and free guidance on preparing and filing taxes through MilTax, Military OneSource tax services. MilTax provides convenient access to military tax counselors and easy-to-use tax preparation and filing software, which is guaranteed for 100 percent accuracy. Use these special resources to help you get an early start on your taxes.

Getting ahead of — and a handle on — your taxes

You need to file your taxes by April 15 (or April 17 in 2017), unless you file for an extension. Whether you use MilTax or do it yourself, here are some steps to make tax filing simple.

  • Get an early start. Identify one place (a folder, shoebox or computer file, for example) to put all your tax documents so you have everything when you need to file.
  • Gather the documents and items you’ll need for tax preparation. This includes:
    • Social Security number(s) and date(s) of birth for you, your spouse and other eligible family members
    • All W-2 forms, from all employers, for you and your spouse
    • Form 1099 for independent contractors
    • Child care, education and adoption costs documentation o Investment income forms
    • Alimony information
    • Social Security benefits information
    • Miscellaneous income forms
    • Form 1098-E for student loan interest
    • Form 1098 for home mortgage interest
    • Charitable donations receipts o Medical and dental expense bills
    • Real estate tax documents
    • Receipts for any deductible expenses
  • Make a list of questions for a tax adviser. Questions may include: Can I write off certain expenses? Can I get an extension? What happens if I’m serving in a combat zone? What should I do if our family moved this year?
  • Discover special tax benefits enjoyed by service members. This ranges from extra pay for those serving in combat zones and other tax perks to special benefits for military members serving outside the United States. Many civilian accountants are unaware of deductions and allowances specific to service members and their families. MilTax consultants specialize in optimizing these benefits and tax deductions — and the preparation and filing software is tailored to military life. Visit MilTax to speak with a trained counselor or visit the Internal Revenue Service to find out more about these benefits.
  • Understand there is free tax preparation. In addition to the tax resources offered through MilTax, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program from the Internal Revenue offers free tax preparation and e-filing at sites both on and off base. It also has sites to help our military overseas. Find a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance location near you.
  • Be aware of tax scams. The Internal Revenue Service posts about the most common tax scams, including shady tax preparers or phishing, on its website. Or check with your state’s attorney general’s office.
  • Understand important steps to take if you are deployed.

What to know about filing tax extensions

Filing taxes after the official deadline is common, but there are important things to understand. The easiest way to get an extension: simply file Form 4668, Extension of Time to File, before the tax deadline. Keep in mind that if you owe taxes, you'll be charged interest from the date the payment is due. You may also incur penalties. If you are unsure about how to file an extension, or if you simply want guidance, a MilTax advisor can walk you through the appropriate steps and make sure you are including all the essential information as a service member.

There also are automatic extensions for service members living outside the United States and those serving in combat zones. There also are important things to know for filing taxes when a service member is deployed.

Call Ahead. Get started on your taxes now by meeting with a trained MilTax consultant for military-specific information regarding your tax questions — for free. Call 800-342-9647 today. Or get face-to-face assistance by visiting a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program location near you. Remember: MilTax’s preparation and filing software comes with a 100 percent accuracy guarantee.