Understanding Moving Claims

Mover unloading truck

Sometimes moves don’t go as smoothly as you would hope. You are entitled to receive compensation for lost or damaged property, and expenses incurred due to a lapse in service. You are highly encouraged to file claims in these instances and can find more details about the various types of claims and how to file for each in the information below.

If you have any questions about this process, you can contact your transportation service provider, your local transportation office, your service branch military claims office or PCSmyPOV. Use the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS tool to find the contact information for your local transportation office.

Personal Property claims

If any of your household goods are lost, damaged or destroyed during the moving process, you may be entitled to full replacement/repair value of those items. This includes items that have been transported via the following move types:

  • Household goods, or HHG
  • Unaccompanied baggage, or UB
  • Non-temporary storage, or NTS
  • Direct procurement method, or DPM

Follow the steps below when filing a claim.

Note: What does “full replacement value” mean?
When you are moving with the military, your items are insured at “full replacement/repair value”, or FRV, at no additional cost to you. Essentially, this means that if an item is lost or destroyed during the move, the TSP is obligated to pay the lesser of the replacement/repair cost. If replacement cost is offered, it should replace the item with the same or similar item. The replacement item could be new or used. The TSP will still require proof of the item’s value, quality and evidence of the cost to replace it. If the item can be repaired, as determined by a qualified inspector, and the repair cost is less than the replacement, the TSP may pay for the repair.

Step 1: Give a notice of loss/damage within 180 calendar days from delivery date

The first step in initiating a claim is to give your TSP a written notice that some of your items were missing or damaged during the move process and that you intend to file a claim. You can submit this notice in two ways:

  1. Review and sign the Notification for Loss and Damage At Delivery form given to you by your delivering TSP on delivery day.
  2. Submit the Notification of Loss and Damage After Delivery form in the Defense Personal Property System, or DPS, which is the portal where you originally scheduled your move. Click on “Start My Loss & Damage Report” to find that form.

Note Rule Change: The 180 calendar days timeframe only applies to shipments picked up on or after May 15, 2020. Shipments picked up prior to May 15, 2020 still adhere to the previous 75 calendar days timeframe.

Exclusion: If your shipment included NTS or DPM and/or was processed outside of DPS, then you must submit the Notification of Loss/Damage At/After Delivery form within 75 calendar days, not 180 calendar days. The checklist you receive during your counseling session will specify the methods used to process your move so you know if this exclusion applies to you.

Step 2: File a claim within 9 months from delivery date

After you give your notice of loss or damage, you must file an itemized claim in DPS for every item that was lost or damaged during the moving process. For NTS and DPM shipments, your claim may be emailed, faxed or mailed.

You will have up to nine months to file a claim for the full replacement/repair value of the item(s) you are claiming. If the claim is filed more than nine months from the delivery date, you will only be eligible for the depreciated value.

Before logging into DPS, save yourself some time by gathering as much of the information below as possible. The more details you can provide about your items, the better. If you have before and after photos or receipts of the item, that will significantly help throughout the process. Learn more about how to inventory your belongings.

Here is an example of the data you may need for replacement or repair of a damaged appliance:

  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Brief description of item: Front-load washing machine, model number ABC12345
  • Inventory item number: 78
  • Cost at purchase: $1,000
  • Year of purchase: 2016
  • Description of damage: Plexiglas on washing machine door has been broken.
  • Repair estimate (optional): $250 from Samsung Repair Wizard
  • Photos and receipts (if available):

Step 3: Work with the TSP to assess your claim

After you have submitted the claim, the TSP must confirm receipt of your claim within 15 calendar days.

The TSP is then responsible for assessing the value of your property and may send someone to inspect the damaged property, repair items, or pick up any items that are damaged beyond economical repair. They are required to share those assessment reports with you upon written request. If an item(s) is lost, the TSP will start an official tracer to locate your goods.

If your household goods shipment was picked up May 15, 2020 and after, the TSP must pay, deny or make an offer within 30 calendar days on all claims valued at $1,000 or less and 60 calendar days on claims over $1,000. You will have the opportunity to accept or make a counter-offer for each item and the TSP must respond to your reply within seven calendar days. Remember, this is a negotiation, so you may counter-offer if you feel the offer amount is not appropriate and the item is not marked as “Final.”

For shipments involving multiple providers (NTS and DPM), the delivering TSP must notify you and the appropriate military claims office within three business days if they are denying liability for the loss or damage. In these cases, it is recommended that you transfer your claim to the MCO who will work on your behalf to determine which parties are responsible for the claimed item(s).

Note: If the TSP has stopped communication, do not dispose of, obtain a repair estimate, or repair any items in your claim without first contacting the MCO for approval.

Step 4: Finalize the settlement or transfer to the MCO

You may settle a claim by accepting or rejecting in full or line item. If you are using DPS, you must finalize the offer in the system. TSP providers (to include NTS and DPM) are then required to make payment or repairs within 30 calendar days of an agreed upon settlement amount. If an item is being repaired, the TSP must hire a repair company no later than 20 calendar days from claim submission and the repair must be completed within 45 calendar days.

For any items that have been designated as “salvage items,” the TSP must take possession of those items at your residence or other location you deem acceptable. The pickup must occur no later than 30 calendar days from the TSP’s notification from the repair firm that an item is beyond repair, or within 20 calendar days of inspection (to include virtual), whichever occurs first. The pickup period can be extended by an agreement between you and the TSP in writing.

Note: DO NOT FEEL PRESSURED – only accept an offer if you are completely satisfied with the offered amount.

Not fully satisfied? Contact your MCO

If you are unable to come to an agreement with the TSP, or they have not communicated with you for more than 30 calendar days, your next step is to transfer the claim to your military claims office. The MCO will take over from there, but it’s important you stay in close contact with them throughout the process. Prior to transferring the claim to the MCO, contact your local transportation office for assistance with your TSP. Use the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS tool to find the contact information for your local transportation office.

You have two years from delivery date to transfer your claim to your MCO. You will receive a depreciated value for the item(s) upfront and then your MCO will continue to negotiate for the full replacement value on your behalf. If they are successful in recouping funds from the TSP, you will receive the difference up to the full replacement/repair value, or FRV. Exemption: For all NTS and DPM claimed item(s), you will be paid the FRV upfront.

Important dates for claim filing

It is important that you stay proactive throughout the claims process and it’s recommended you follow up well before the timelines displayed below.

Delivery day

For any lost, damaged, or destroyed items discovered on delivery day, request that your delivering TSP (moving truck driver) complete and sign a Notification for Loss and Damage At Delivery form. Please verify that the TSP contact information is clearly listed on the form.

Up to 180 calendar days after delivery date

If you didn’t submit a form on delivery day, you can still submit notification using the Defense Personal Property System or DPS. You have up to 180 calendar days for household goods shipments picked up on or after May 15, 2020 to inspect your property, annotate all loss and damage not previously discovered and reported at the time of delivery, and provide notice to the TSP.

Note: for household goods shipments picked up prior to May 15, 2020 you have 75 calendar days to report loss or damage.

Up to 9 months after delivery date

Sign in to the Defense Personal Property System or DPS and submit itemized claims for any lost or damaged items for full replacement/repair value, or FRV, provided notice of loss or damage was submitted or provided to the TSP within 75 or 180 calendar days (as applicable based on shipment pick up date)

Between 9 months and 2 years after delivery day

Contact your service branch military claims office for help receiving depreciated replacement value, or repair cost, whichever is the lesser of the two.

30/60 calendar days after claim submission

If your household goods shipment was picked up prior to May 15, 2020, your TSP should pay, deny or make an offer within 60 calendar days of receipt of a complete claim submission.

If your household goods shipment was picked up May 15, 2020 and after, your TSP should pay, deny or make an offer on all claims valued at $1,000 or less within 30 calendar days of receipt of the claim and within 60 calendar days of receipt on all other claims.

Note: If you file a Loss/Damage Report, you can submit claims for any additional lost or damaged items discovered after the initial 75 or 180 calendar day window, even if it wasn’t included on the original Loss/Damage Report. Contact your military claims office to request a waiver and to discuss good cause for the delay. Good cause may include, but is not limited to, an officially recognized absence or hospitalization during some or all of the 75 day or 180 calendar days after delivery.

Quick claim settlement option

Instead of using the traditional filing method described above, if the delivering TSP offers, you may file a quick claim settlement outside of DPS to promptly resolve minor loss or damage (not to exceed $1,000). You will file paperwork on delivery day with the TSP and payment will be sent within five calendar days of claim submission. While you cannot file claims on those specific items later, you may still use DPS to file claims for other lost or damaged items discovered after delivery.

Residential damage claims

If your TSP causes any damage to your home or residence, you can file a Real Property Damage claim to be reimbursed. Follow these steps to file a Real Property Damage claim.

Step 1: Document the damage on the day it occurs
Conduct a pre and post walk-around with the TSP and note any damage, both interior and exterior, in writing. Take pictures for your records. An example of damage might include scratched hardwood floors, dented walls, torn grass, etc.

Step 2: Submit a claim
Contact the TSP directly within seven calendar days from the last date they were at your residence. The TSP may require you to submit a DP3 Real Property Damage Form.

Step 3: Conduct an inspection
The TSP will schedule an inspection within 15 calendar days of notification. They will arrange for a repair firm to inspect your property damage. The repair estimate will be shared with you to determine payment.

If you have any problems negotiating settlement, you should contact your local transportation office or MCO for further assistance/guidance. Use the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS tool to find the contact information for your local transportation office.

Be aware that they may suggest you consult with your local legal office and seek assistance from an attorney.

Inconvenience claims

An inconvenience claim is a payment to you from your TSP to offset expenses incurred by you and your dependents because you are not able to use necessary items in your shipment to establish your household due to the TSP’s inability to meet required pickup and delivery dates. An inconvenience claim is authorized and payable when:

  • The TSP fails to pick up a shipment upon the agreed date.
  • The TSP fails to deliver on or before the required delivery date, provided you are in possession of residence and are available to receive the delivery.
  • The TSP places your shipment into storage in transit, or SIT, without you being notified.
  • You have requested for your shipment to be released from SIT and the carrier is unable to deliver the shipment out of SIT within the following dates:
    • Within seven government business days from the date you make your first contact requesting delivery or
    • Within two government business days, when your requested delivery date is more than seven business days out.

You will be notified by your TSP if a delay is expected to occur with your shipment. This normally happens a few days prior to the scheduled delivery day but could be as late as on the day of scheduled delivery. You should contact your local transportation office if you believe you are owed an inconvenience claim and the TSP has not already offered you a way to submit a claims form. Use the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS tool to find the contact information for your local transportation office.

For shipments picked up prior to May 15, 2020, the TSP will reimburse you for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses documented by receipts. Tangible household items paid for by the TSP may be reclaimed upon delivery of your shipment. For household good shipments picked up May 15, 2020 or later, there is a baseline reimbursement of the local per diem 100% rate for meals and incidental expenses for the member only, based on the applicable pick-up or delivery location. No receipts are needed for the first seven calendar days. Visit the Defense Travel Management Office website to get M&IE per diem rates. Unaccompanied baggage shipment claims are not paid based on per diem and require receipts showing actual expenses.

Tangible household items paid for by the TSP may be reclaimed upon delivery of your shipment. Contact your TSP before purchasing any out-of-pocket expenses to avoid issues.

Note: The customer will be authorized either the per diem amount or the actual out-of-pocket expenses whichever is greater. All expenses claimed beginning the eighth calendar day must be documented with receipts.

Download the Filing an Inconvenience Claim Handout to use as a reference guide.

Privately owned vehicle, or POV, claims

You have two options for filing a POV loss or damage claim: you can submit and settle your claim directly with International Auto Logistics, or you can transfer your claim to your service branch military claims office. You can access IAL’s claims information at PCSmyPOV or check out the POV Claims brochure.

If you want to file your POV claim with your service branch MCO, visit Military OneSource Customer Service Contacts for Your Military PCS and look under the Claims section for your service branch contact information.

POV inconvenience claims

If you’re a service member, you may be reimbursed for rental car and lodging expenses if your POV is not available for pick-up on the required delivery date. The government will reimburse you up to $30 per day for the first seven calendar days, not to exceed $210. After that time, the contractor may be responsible for paying inconvenience claims over the government’s maximum allowance. IAL will consider your claim and pay, decline or make a firm settlement offer in writing within 40 calendar days. Once your vehicle is made available for pickup, IAL is no longer responsible for paying an inconvenience claim.

If you’re a civilian employee, you can file an inconvenience claim if your POV misses its required delivery date—even though there is no rental car authority for civilian employees. IAL will pay, decline or make a firm settlement offer to you, in writing, within 40 calendar days of your claim date.

Voting Becomes Easier for the Mobile Military Life

Flag with vote button

As a guardian of our nation, you protect the American way of life. And the Federal Voting Assistance Program is here to ensure that you and your family are able to exercise your right to vote.

About three-quarters of the 1.4 million active-duty service members are eligible to vote by absentee ballot due to their being stationed outside their voting jurisdictions. And thanks to amendments to the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (1986), it’s easier for relocated and overseas service members and spouses to register and submit absentee ballots.

Military Absentee Voting Made Simple

No matter where you are, the Federal Post Card Application helps you ensure that your vote is counted in a few simple steps.

Today, states are required to send ballots to service members and eligible family members at least 45 days before federal elections and to provide electronic options for voters to receive those ballots. The change boosted the rate of successfully counted absentee ballots sent from service members from 30% in 2006 to 53% in 2018.

FVAP helps you vote. Wherever you are.

FVAP provides assistance for service members and eligible family members to register to vote, request an absentee ballot and check the status of a ballot for federal offices no matter where they’re located.

Now it’s easier than ever to:

  • Register to vote – whether it’s your first time, you have relocated or you have separated from the military
  • Request your absentee ballot
  • Vote and submit your absentee ballot

Most states require you to register to vote or request an absentee ballot to start the process. The expanded use of electronic options for sending and receiving federal election materials has made it much easier to vote by absentee ballot. That’s important as two-thirds of military voters are absentee voters.

It’s best to start the absentee voting process early. Here are easy ways to demonstrate your readiness and ensure that your vote is cast and counted:

Many states allow you to submit your FPCA electronically, and all states accept at least one form of electronic transmission to send you a blank ballot. Many states accept the ballot by email or fax, while some only accept the ballot by mail. Mail delivery times vary based on where you live. If your state requires you to mail your ballot, then you can make sure your vote is counted by mailing your ballot early to allow for extra time.

Since voting materials that are mailed can’t be forwarded, it’s important for you to provide your election office with your new address after every move. Consider sending in a new FPCA every year. Also, federal elections can come up suddenly, even during non-election years. Submitting the FPCA each year helps ensure that you will receive a ballot for all federal elections for which you are eligible.

Voting when transitioning out of the military

If you are transitioning to civilian life, you should notify your election office of your change in voter registration status and update your information so you can vote locally in the next election. Depending on whether you are staying in the same voting district after military separation, or if you are moving to a new state or county, there are just one or two easy steps to take, which you can find at https://www.fvap.gov/military-voter/transition.

More information

When you want to vote – whether you’re entering the military, casting a ballot for the first time, relocating or transitioning or retiring from the military – and have questions about casting your ballot, your Installation Voter Assistance Office will likely have the answers. Go to FVAP.gov or call 800-438-VOTE (8683).

Federal Voting Assistance Program resources

Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: Voters can find helpful resources on FVAP.gov, including COVID-19 information and two visual maps that depict how states accept the FPCA or ballot.

Envelopes: Voters can also download postage-paid envelope templates that will allow them to mail back their voting materials free of charge from any military post at a military installation or via diplomatic pouch at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas.

Languages: Voters who prefer to read absentee voting information in Arabic, French or Spanish can find translations of instructions for filling out the FPCA and FWAB.

Installation Voting Assistance Office: Active-duty military and military spouses can find and get help from their IVAO.

Subscribe: Voters can also subscribe to receive voting emails.

Calendars: Voters also have access to voting alerts and calendar reminders for their state.

Social media: Voters can follow FVAP on social media to tune in to Facebook Live events, absentee voting best practices and more.

Preparing for Your PCS Move

Couple planning for move

There are several steps in the moving process that occur before packing even begins. Understanding what each step includes can help ensure a smooth transition. Your local transportation office can answer questions and provide assistance with all aspects of your move, from understanding entitlements and allowances to scheduling your shipments.

Step 1: Receiving assignment notification

While each service does this slightly differently, you are typically notified that you will be moving through an assignment notification process. This could be done through an email, a phone call or a notification from a supervisor. It’s important to understand that an assignment notification does not mean that you have “orders” yet. At this stage, it’s recommended that you start some of the preparation work, which may include looking at places to live at your new destination and getting yourself organized for the pending move. The one constant within the Department of Defense is change, so we caution you not to make any permanent decisions (i.e. home purchase) until you have orders in hand.

Here are a few things you can do while you wait for your official orders:

Step 2: Receiving your orders

In general, your moving process will start with the job/travel orders you receive from your service or agency. In your orders, information describing your rank, the duration of your job/training, and your assigned location will determine whether your entire dependent family can come, what you are allowed to bring, and how those items will arrive to your new location.

Your orders are an important document, so make sure everything is accurate. Verify the administrative details (your name, Social Security number, etc.) and make sure it has the correct duty station, dependent information and reporting dates. If you see anything that does not look right, let your administration know right away that there is an error so it can be corrected as soon as possible. If you have any questions, your local transportation office is the place to go for help deciphering your orders as they pertain to moving.

Understanding different types of assignments and destinations

PCS, or permanent change of station, is when you are assigned to a location for 20 weeks, regardless of whether your assignment pertains to training or a new job. In these circumstances, you should be allowed a full household goods move should you choose to take it.

TDY, or temporary duty, is when you are temporarily assigned to a new location for an extended period of time (over 31 days) but generally less than 20 weeks. For TDY, it is common that only a small subset of your household belongings will be able to travel with you to your new location.

CONUS moves start and end within the 48 contiguous states of the U.S. and District of Columbia

OCONUS moves are to or from Alaska and Hawaii, and international locations.

Note: First time movers, separating service members and retirees must contact their local transportation office before scheduling a move in DPS.

Step 3: Scheduling your move

Now that you have orders in hand, you get to choose how to ship your goods and schedule your move dates. You should contact your local transportation office to schedule an info/counseling session and learn what options there are for transporting your goods.

Using the Defense Personal Property System, or DPS

DPS is the online system you use to upload your orders and create shipment(s) (e.g. household goods, unaccompanied baggage, non-temporary storage, personally procured move, etc.). You can log in using a common access card, or CAC, or by obtaining a user ID and password before accessing DPS. Follow the instructions in the “New User Registration” tutorial in DPS when setting up your account. After that, follow the instructions in the “Create a Shipment” or “Create a PPM Shipment” tutorial.

When creating your shipment, you will select the packing and pickup dates. This will be a seven-day spread window starting with actual pickup date requested during your self-counseling or counseling session with your local personal property office. Learn more about the 7 Day Spread Window Policy.

Once your shipment application (DD Form 1299) has been created and submitted, the personal property processing office, or PPPO, will review and submit for routing and awarding to a transportation service provider, or TSP.

Note: First time movers, separating service members and retirees must contact their local transportation office before scheduling a move in DPS.

When you sign in to DPS you can expect to be asked a series of questions about your move. Make sure you are prepared to provide the following:

  • Your contact information
  • Estimated weight
  • Pickup and delivery locations
  • Pickup and delivery dates
  • Special entitlement items (boat, guns, large electronics, etc.)
  • Estimated weight of professional books, papers and equipment, or PBP&E

Related Forms:

Choosing how to ship your goods and understanding move types

When scheduling your move, you will have some choices to make regarding how your belongings are shipped to your new destination. Remember, you can split up your total allowable weight into multiple shipments. For example, most service members doing a PCS CONUS move will have both a personally procured move, also known as a PPM or “do it yourself,” and a household goods, or HHG, shipment using a government-furnished moving company for the bulk of their belongings. If you have any questions, your local transportation office is the place to go for help figuring out how to break up your weight into various shipments.

HHG, or a household goods move, is a move completed by a government-furnished moving company, also called a transportation service provider, or TSP. During a HHG move, your TSP is responsible for packing all of your belongings and transporting them to your new location.

Approved for:
CONUS
Permanent change of station, or PCS

OCONUS
Permanent change of station, or PCS

Note: If your HHG shipment includes storage-in-transit you may have the option to request the use of a container. Shipments in containers are dependent on what the moving and storage industry is able to provide at the time of your move. To learn more about shipments in containers, visit the Crating section of Frequently Asked Questions for PCS and Military Moves.

PPM, or a personally procured move, is a do-it-yourself move within the military. You will be responsible for either packing/unpacking and transporting your belongings to your new location yourself or hiring your own commercial moving company. You can use portable moving and storage containers, rental trucks, or any other method of your choosing to conduct a PPM.

PPMs are especially recommended for any irreplaceable valuables you own, such as family heirlooms, photos and important documents or for necessities you will need immediately at your new location while waiting for your transporter to arrive. To learn more about PPMs check out the PPM Factsheet.

As an incentive to move yourself, the government will pay you 100% of the government’s constructed “best value” cost to hire a moving company on your behalf or perform your own move. If you can move your belongings yourself for less money, you get to keep the difference. Remember, this money is considered an incentive and is based on the household goods weight you actually transport, not to exceed your authorized weight allowance. If necessary, for most branches of military service you can receive an advance payment of up to 60 percent of the incentive value.

If the government cannot arrange an HHG move within the timeframe you request, you may be authorized to do a PPM and in some cases receive reimbursement of the actual coast associated with hiring a commercial moving company if approved in advance by your military service or agency. Contact your local transportation office for more details.

Approved for:
CONUS
Temporary Duty, or TDY
Permanent Change of Station, or PCS

OCONUS
Temporary Duty, or TDY

Note: There’s no incentive PPM for DOD civilians. Civilians are only authorized actual cost reimbursement for expenses incurred or the commuted rate based on the General Services Administration schedule.

Related Forms:

UB, or unaccompanied baggage, is an option for shipments where a small subset of your total weight allowance is expedited to your new location, typically while you wait for the rest of your belongings to arrive at a later date. UB shipments are approved for CONUS TDY and OCONUS TDY and PCS.

POV, or privately owned vehicle, shipment and storage is available for some moves. In general, if you are traveling overseas or outside of the contiguous United States the government may pay to ship one POV to your new duty station or store one POV during your OCONUS tour. You will need to make an appointment with the global POV contractor, International Auto Logistics, or IAL, and take it to a vehicle processing center, or VPC, for transportation to your new duty station or to a contracted storage facility. You can find global VPC locations, schedule your turn-in or drop-off appointment, and view POV shipping and storage documentation requirements on IAL’s website, PCSmyPOV.

Note: Some OCONUS countries do not allow POV transportation into the host country. Check with your local transportation office for country-specific restrictions. In these situations, you can store your POV at government or personal expense for the length of your OCONUS tour. Contact your local transportation office for storage authorizations and reimbursement options.

If you are a service member travelling within the 48 contiguous states, or CONUS, you can drive your vehicle to your new location or pay to ship one or more POVs at your own expense. The government will pay you a monetary allowance in lieu of transportation, or MALT, for mileage, fuel, tolls, and certain other expenses you encounter along the way. Be sure to save your receipts and tickets. In some cases, a service member may be allowed to ship a POV between CONUS duty stations if he or she is physically unable to drive or has insufficient time to drive and report to the new duty station as ordered.

If you’re a civilian employee changing duty stations within CONUS, you may be allowed to ship up to two POVs to your new duty location if the new CONUS destination is further than 600 miles away. There are other exceptions, so check with your servicing civilian personnel office or local transportation office if you have questions.

NTS, or non-temporary storage, is long-term storage of your belongings generally used instead of shipping your items to your new duty station. Expect the storage location to be located near the origin or pickup location where items may remain for the duration of your tour. When you return and have established a new address, you can request retrieval and shipment of your stored belongings. There may be restrictions on CONUS NTS, so be sure to contact your local transportation office if you have any questions. NTS is approved for CONUS PCS (exceptions may apply) and OCONUS PCS.

Note: For retirement: NTS may be authorized for 1 year beginning with retirement date, and may be extended for up to five years.

Note: For separation: NTS may be authorized for 180 days, and may be extend one time for an additional 180 days.

Related Forms:

For information about shipping special items such as boats, motorcycles, firearms, pro gear and more, review the entitlements moving guide or contact your local transportation office.

The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act

Couple discuss finances at a military tax center

Moving from place to place requires a lot of effort and changes. Two laws make it easier for military spouses regarding their residency, voting and state taxes.

In 2009, the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act amended the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act. MSRRA allows military spouses to maintain legal residence in the state where they lived before a permanent change of station move with their active-duty service member. A second amendment to the SCRA, called the Veterans Benefits and Transition Act of 2018, provides additional protections and benefits to military spouses.

Maintaining your legal residence under MSRRA

Every person has a state of legal residence. For most civilians, their state of legal residence is the place where they live. But service members and their families move frequently. The SCRA allows active-duty military members to maintain their legal residence in the place they consider home.

The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act allows military spouses to declare the same state of legal residency as their spouse. The Veterans Benefits and Transition Act allows spouses to make that choice regardless of when they were married. The following conditions must be met to qualify under the MSRRA:

  • The service member is living on military orders in a state that is not his/her resident state.
  • The spouse is in that state solely to live with the service member.
  • Both the service member and spouse have the same resident state.

The spouse only pays taxes on income in their state of legal residency when they meet the above conditions.

Using your spouse’s state of legal residence

Spouses may vote and pay taxes in their active-duty spouse’s state of legal residence, according to the Veterans Benefits and Transition Act of 2018.

Income covered by MSRRA

A military spouse’s income is subject to tax laws in the state of legal residence. SCRA only covers an active-duty service member’s military income so any other income is taxable by the state in which it is earned.

Military spouses and service members may be required to file and pay state income taxes on other income in the state where it is earned. This includes income from rental property.

Service members and spouses who own businesses should check with their legal and tax professionals. They can help determine if and how MSRRA and SCRA apply to their specific situations.

What MSRRA does not do

MSRRA does not permit military spouses to maintain a legal residence in a state different than their active-duty service members. State laws, however, may be more generous than the federal MSRRA.

Military spouses must fulfill their state’s residency requirements. That almost always includes having a physical presence in that state.

Sometimes a military spouse will live in a different state than the active-duty service member. In these cases, the MSRRA generally does not apply.

Access free legal assistance on your installation or call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. You may also live chat 24/7/365. Military OneSource can help with other questions about MSRRA, SCRA, or other residence, tax or voting issues. CONUS/International? Click here for calling options.