Preparing, Filing and Refunds - The Essentials

T-A-X-E-S. A five letter word that doesn’t have to conjure up a feeling of dread. Be proactive and strategic about the way you prepare and file your taxes and how you spend your refund. As a service member or family member, take advantage of easy access to free tax consultations and financial counselors with military experience, along with secure online tax preparation and filing software.

Use these strategies to stay organized:

Start your taxes early.

The tax deadline always comes sooner than you expect. Be prepared for tax season by organizing your paperwork year-round. Gather the documents and items you’ll need for tax preparation as they arrive in the mail and designate a place to put them. Organize your paperwork a few months before the deadline so there is no last-minute panicking.

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Access free tax preparation services.

MilTax, Military OneSource tax services, offers free tax consultations and electronic filing to eligible service members and their families. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program from the Internal Revenue Service also offers free tax preparation and e-filing at sites both on and off base.

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Educate yourself on tax extensions.

Filing taxes after the official deadline is common, but there are important things to understand. For starters, you must file Form 4668 before the tax deadline.

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Maximize your tax refund.

A tax refund isn’t free money, even if it feels that way. You worked hard to earn it, so put it to good use to help secure your financial future. Pay down your highest-interest credit card debt, build up an emergency fund, donate to a charitable organization or invest in yourself by using your refund for a certification class.

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