Military OneSource MilTax – Benefits

Military OneSource provides service members and their families with easy access to a suite of tax services, including easy-to-use tax preparation and e-filing software designed to address military-specific situations, and information and resources on a variety of tax-related topics. And it’s all free.

MilTax assistance includes providing answers to any questions about your economic impact payment or coronavirus disease 2019 tax implications, such as if you are a military spouse and experienced job or wage loss due to  COVID-19. With MilTax, there are no hidden surprises.

MilTax consultations

MilTax consultants have extensive knowledge of the tax benefits for military members, families and survivors, and can help you get all the tax credits and deductions you qualify for. MilTax consultants are specially trained to understand all kinds of military tax situations. Assistance includes:

  • Alerting you to tax requirements and deductions related to military life
  • Identifying important tax regulations that apply to service members
  • Answering your questions so you can confidently complete federal and state tax forms
  • Addressing any tax-related questions you have while preparing your federal and state tax returns
  • Connecting you to MilTax software for secure online preparation and free tax filing.

MilTax software is available mid-January through mid-October. Get virtual support anywhere, anytime. Call 800-342-9647, 24/7 to schedule an appointment to speak with a MilTax consultant. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

MilTax tax preparation and filing services

MilTax free preparation and e-filing software is made to be convenient for the military community. It was developed with the realities of military life in mind – scenarios that civilians rarely encounter – including deployments, combat pay, multiple moves and multi-state filing. This self-paced tax software allows you to:

  • Complete and electronically file your federal return and up to three state tax forms.
  • Check on your electronic filing status.
  • Rest easy knowing that a tax software provider is by your side if you get audited.
  • Get 100% accurate calculations, or the tax software provider will reimburse you up to $10,000. Terms and conditions apply.

MilTax e-filing software is easy to use, and free technical assistance is available if you need it. The system protects and safeguards the security and confidentiality of your personal information by using industry-recognized safeguards.

For technical assistance, such as login issues, using the software, printing returns, etc., call 855-897-8639 and follow the prompts.

Earned income tax credit

Understand whether you can obtain an Earned Income Tax Credit to put more money in your pocket. These are federal income tax credits for low- and moderate- income working individuals and families. Be aware that:

  • The credit can generate a refund if you do not have any taxes to pay.
  • Service members and families may have an easier time qualifying for the credit because some forms of military income – such as pay earned during service in a combat zone or basic allowances for housing – are non-taxable and aren’t included as part of your total income.

To find out more about the credit or tax help for military members and veterans, visit the IRS website.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

  • You can meet with a military tax consultant for face-to-face assistance via the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program at no cost – for tax advice and preparation, return filing and other tax assistance.
  • This IRS program offers free tax preparation and e-filing at sites on and off base. It also has sites overseas to help military members and their families.

Find a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance location near you.

Financial counseling

Should MilTax consultants help you get a tax refund, schedule a free financial counseling session with Military OneSource to figure out the best way to apply that refund to long-term savings goals.

According to the IRS, filers received on average $2,577 in direct deposit tax refunds in 2019. So if you are expecting to get a refund this year, file early and replenish your savings.

And you don’t have to wait for your refund in the mail. Through Military OneSource MilTax, you can sign up to get your refund sent straight to your bank account through direct deposit.

To take advantage of MilTax and other potential tax benefits, call 800-342-9647 or live chat to schedule a free consultation today.  CONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

MilTax: Free Tax Return Filing Help for Your Service Member

Service member works on her laptop.

If your service member has recently entered the military, you may now lose the ability to claim them as a dependent. On top of that, this may be the first time your loved one has ever had to file a tax return.

All service members have access to Military OneSource MilTax, a suite of free tax services designed specifically for military personnel, to help save them money and let them file their tax return quickly and confidently ‒ increasing their chances of scoring a nice tax refund.

MilTax includes:

  • Easy-to-use tax preparation and e-filing software
  • Personalized support from tax consultants
  • Current information about filing taxes in the military

Your service member has a range of support.

MilTax is just one way Military OneSource supports your service member. Discover all the ways your service member is supported – so they can live their best military life.

MilTax is designed to address the realities of military life, such as deployments, combat and training pay, housing and rentals and multistate filings.

Best of all, MilTax is 100% free for service members. There are no hidden surprises. That’s a lot of savings compared to a commercial tax preparation company. Most people spend an average of $132.93 per person on tax preparation services alone – that’s money back in your service member’s pocket.

Easy-to-use tax software with guaranteed results

MilTax preparation and e-filing software is available mid-January through mid-October. It’s easy to use, walking your service member through a series of questions to complete their return. The software allows users to securely e-file federal returns and up to three state tax forms. All calculations are guaranteed accurate by the software provider, so your service member can use MilTax with confidence.

Easy, accessible tax support from military experts

If your service member has questions about taxes or just needs help getting started, MilTax consultants are available by appointment over the phone to help with tax situations specific to military service, such as how to report deployment and combat pay, filing deadlines and extensions.

Our tax consultant was fantastic! Last year I was on the phone with the IRS for hours. This year, with a simple 10-minute call, he solved all of our issues.

MilTax user

In-person support is also available at Volunteer Income Tax Support Assistance offices on many military installations.

MilTax services are always 100% free, and they’re available 24/7 through Military OneSource. Encourage your service member to learn more about MilTax software and tax consultations.

Your service member also has access to free financial counseling to make the most out of their tax refund or for assistance on any financial matter. They can call 800-342-9647 for 24/7 help. OCONUS/International? View calling options.

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Health and Wellness Coaching Consultation

Covid-19 Health and Wellness


Current as of November 16, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has led to gym closures and disrupted other ways people stay fit and manage stress. At the same time, boredom at home can lead to unhealthy snacking. Good nutrition and fitness are key to withstanding the stress of uncertain times.

If you need a hand getting back on track, free Military OneSource health and wellness coaching can help. Coaches can also help you tackle stress and deal with life transitions.

Health and wellness coaching

Your Military OneSource health and wellness coach will work with you by phone, video or online chat to help with:

  • Weight management
  • Fitness
  • Nutrition
  • Health condition management
  • Stress management
  • Life transitions, including deployment, moving, becoming a new parent or retirement

How health and wellness coaching works

Health and wellness coaches provide information, support, encouragement and accountability. Your coach will not tell you what to do and how to do it, but will help you make a plan, focus on results and reach goals. Your coach will:

  • Help you identify your beliefs, values, vision and goals
  • Create an action plan to achieve your goals
  • Prepare you for any roadblocks or barriers to reaching your goals
  • Keep you focused and on course
  • Celebrate your achievements

Get started with health and wellness coaching

Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 to sign up for health and wellness coaching sessions. This service is free for service members and their immediate family.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

Changing Jobs in the Military: Is It Possible?

Airmen prepare an engine for shipment.

Every service member has a specific job, often called a military occupational specialty or rating, usually assigned very soon after enlistment or basic training. Each specialty includes specific duties you will be expected to perform to help your service branch protect the peace and fulfill its mission.

Specialties are assigned based on your personal talents and skills, available “billets” or job openings, and the overall mission needs of your service branch, both current and future.

Can I transfer to a new military MOS if I don’t like my current one?

Check out the different military jobs.

From armored tank drivers and infantry units to musicians and mechanics, the military offers professional opportunities for almost every career.

If you’d like to change specialties and try something new, there are steps you can take to find a new position as you continue your service. But be aware, a change in military specialty is not always possible or guaranteed.

The Army and Marine Corps calls this type of change a “reclassification” or “change of military operations specialty.” The Navy calls it a “cross-rate,” and in the Air Force it is “re-training.” But no matter what it’s called in your branch, be aware the military expects service members to stay in their first specialty for a while – usually several years. After all, it’s taken time and resources to train you – the military wants to see a return on its investment.

Occasionally, a branch may run a “mandatory reclassification” to maintain a balanced fighting force.

Increasing your chances of transferring to a new military position

You must ask for a transfer through your chain of command. Your branch’s approval depends a lot on your personal situation. If your service record is clean, and you have a good reputation with your chain of command, your request is more likely to be considered.

In addition, a transfer may be more likely if:

  • You are re-enlisting. You can request a specialty reassignment when you re-enlist, during which you agree to serve for another few years in your new position. This is likely the best time to make a move to a new position.
  • There are too many personnel in your current position. If your current specialty is overstaffed, it may be easier to move to a different specialty with fewer staff positions.
  • Your desired specialty is understaffed. If the specialty you would like to join is in need of more personnel, you are more likely to be able to make the change. Your service branch may even send out a call looking for people interested in switching to critically understaffed positions.
  • You’ve received more training or education, like a college degree, that makes you more valuable in a different position. Some specialties aren’t available until you’ve served for a few years, like many positions in the special operations units.

Will I be able to use my military MOS to find a civilian job?

You can absolutely use the skills and experience you’ve gained in the civilian workforce. In fact, many of the specialties require civilian-based credentials and training to operate effectively. For example, both military and civilian air traffic controllers are FAA-certified.

There are several Department of Defense programs dedicated to helping separating service members find solid civilian careers. For example, each service branch runs a credentialing program designed to translate a service member’s specialty and general military experience into a civilian-style resume hiring managers can understand. And remember, Military OneSource is here to connect you to the resources and services you need to live your best military life.

Common Military Acronyms

A male Air Force captain listens to a radio during an outdoor training exercise.

Sometimes it feels like the military has a language all its own made entirely of acronyms and abbreviations. And while your service member is probably fluent in this strange tongue, you may need a little help to keep up.

Military OneSource Connects Service Members to Their Best MilLife

Active duty, National Guard and reserve service members have access to expert support, non-medical counseling, specialty consultations and more. It’s free and available 24/7.

Military acronyms: The basics for new recruits

AAFES: Army and Air Force Exchange Service. The retailer that operates post exchanges on Army and Air Force installations.

AIT or “A School”: Advanced individual training. The hands-on career training and field instruction each service member receives before being qualified to do a specific military job. This specialized schooling varies by military branch.

ASVAB: Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. A multiple-choice test a prospective recruit takes before enlisting to see if they are qualified to join and which military jobs they qualify for.

DOD: Department of Defense. The department of the U.S. government responsible for military operations.

MEPS: Military Entrance Processing Station. Where service members take the ASVAB, get a physical, choose their military job and swear in.

MOS: Military occupational specialty. This is a service member’s specific job in the military, from artillery and aviation to engineering and intelligence.

OPSEC: Operational Security. The process of identifying and protecting information about military operations.

PT: Physical training. Key to military readiness, service members will be expected to meet fitness standards throughout their enlistment.

PX: Post Exchange. A store at a military installation that sells merchandise and services to military personnel and authorized civilians.

Military acronyms: Chain of command

CO: Commanding officer. The officer in charge of a military unit, such as captain for a company (Army) and squadron commander for a squadron of aircraft (Air Force).

JSC: Joint Chiefs of Staff. A group of senior military leaders who advise the president, the Secretary of Defense, the Homeland Security Council and the National Security Council on military matters.

NCO: Noncommissioned officer. A military officer who has not received a commission, such as sergeant (Army) and warrant officer (Navy).

XO: Executive officer. The second-in-command to a commanding officer.

Military acronyms: MilLife paperwork

BRS: Blended Retirement System. The military’s new retirement system, which extends benefits to about 85% of service members, even if they don’t serve a full 20 years. This system uses the Thrift Savings Plan described below.

DEERS: Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. A database of military families and others entitled to receive TRICARE and other benefits.

LES: Leave and Earning Statement. This bimonthly statement reports what you’ve earned, how much has been withheld for taxes, your leave balance and what allotments you have. Service members in the Air Force or Army may choose to receive their pay monthly, in which case the LES would be reported only once a month instead of twice.

POC: Point of contact. The person you contact about a specific program or assignment.

TRICARE: Military health care program. TRICARE provides health benefits to service members, retirees and their families.

TSP: Thrift Savings Plan. Similar to a 401(k), the TSP is a government-sponsored retirement savings and investment plan. The TSP is a fundamental part of the military’s new Blended Retirement System, described above.

Military acronyms: Finance and housing

BAH: Basic Allowance for Housing. Compensation service members receive to cover the cost of housing when government quarters are not provided.

COLA: Cost of Living Allowance. Compensation service members receive to offset the cost of living in more expensive areas of the U.S.

OHA: Overseas Housing Allowance. Compensation service members receive for housing outside the U.S. when government quarters aren’t available.

POC: Privately Owned Conveyance. A service member’s personal vehicle that is not owned by the government.

Military acronyms: Locations

CONUS/OCONUS: The continental U.S., or CONUS, is the 48 connected states and District of Columbia. OCONUS is outside the continental U.S.

DITY: Do-It-Yourself, or a personally procured move, which can save a service member a lot of money moving. This is often associated with moving during a permanent change of station.

FOB: Forward operating base. A temporary, secured operational position that supports strategic goals and tactical objectives.

PCS: Permanent change of station. The relocation of an active-duty service member to a different duty location. Service members may PCS every few years.

PPM: Personally Procured Move. A move a service member plans and conducts on their own, instead of having the military do it. PPM expenses may be reimbursed by the military.

TDY: Temporary duty station. A temporary assignment at a location other than a service member’s permanent duty station.

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Honoring Gold Star Families

Close-up of a gold star on a blue shirt

Gold star families – spouses, children, parents, siblings or others whose loved one died in service to our nation – are a vital part of our country’s military community and history.

How did the term gold star originate? During World War I, families displayed small banners with a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the armed forces. If their service member died in service, the family replaced the blue star with a gold star. The gold star let the community know that their service member died or was killed while serving their country.

Today, the nation recognizes gold star survivors in several ways to show its deep gratitude, including:

  • Designating the last Sunday of September as Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day
  • Recognizing April 5 as Gold Star Spouses Day
  • Authorizing the Gold Star Lapel Button

These buttons are a symbol of the nation’s appreciation of a service member’s sacrifice to country and service, allowing us to honor and recognize the families of these brave men and women. To learn more about the Gold Star Lapel Button and how to honor gold star families:

Even though gold star families have experienced a great loss, their ties to the military community remain strong. Their military networks are dedicated to supporting them. To learn more about the resources and benefits available to gold star survivors, download A Survivor’s Guide to Benefits: Taking Care of Our Families, or see an overview of what’s available at Gold Star & Surviving Family Members – Benefits.

More comprehensive information about various benefits for gold star survivors can be found in the Gold Star & Surviving Family Members section of Military OneSource.

Understanding the Roles of Military Officers and Enlisted Service Members

an officer is saluted by enlisted service members

More than 80% of the U.S. military is made up of enlisted members, with officers making up the rest of the military population of the armed forces. Officers are trained to be managers and leaders. They plan missions, provide orders and assign tasks, while enlisted members are technical experts and leaders that hold the specific skills necessary to complete the mission.

Both of these roles are essential to the military and offer rewarding careers. A first step toward becoming an enlisted service member or an officer is to work with a military recruiter. Your recruiter will help you determine which path is best given your level of education, goals and qualifications.

Joining the military as an enlisted member

To enlist in the armed forces, you must:

  • Have a high school diploma. In some cases, a general equivalency diploma will be accepted.
  • Be at least 17 years old. The maximum age to enlist in the military varies according to branch of service, from 28 years old for the Marine Corps, to 39 for the Navy and the Air Force. The maximum age to enlist in the Army is 34. But these are subject to change so check with your recruiter.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.
  • Speak, read and write English fluently.
  • Achieve the minimum score on the Armed Forces Qualification Test for your branch of service.
  • Pass a physical and meet weight requirements. Fitness standards vary by service.

After meeting with a recruiter, you will report to a Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS. There you will:

  • Take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. Your overall score on the ASVAB’s 10 subtests will help determine what jobs you are qualified for in the armed forces. You may be required to take additional special purpose tests to help determine the best career for you.
  • Undergo a complete physical exam, which includes hearing and vision tests as well as drug and alcohol testing.
  • Meet with a service liaison to learn about available jobs in your service. Some services assign a job at this time while others wait until after basic training or later. Your job will depend on your preferences and where your skills are most needed at the time of your enlistment.
  • Be fingerprinted for background checks and security clearances.
  • Take the Oath of Enlistment in which you vow to defend the U.S. Constitution and obey the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Serving as an enlisted member

As a recruit, you will attend basic training to prepare physically and mentally to become a member of your branch of service. Basic training typically spans seven to 12 weeks depending on your branch of service. After graduation from basic training, you will attend advanced training and in some cases, additional training to learn your job.

Enlisted members start their careers as junior enlisted personnel, called privates in the Army and Marine Corps, airman basic in the Air Force and seaman recruit in the Navy. Though military titles and rank can differ by service, pay grade rankings are standardized across the military. These are designated as E-1 through E-9. Pay and responsibilities increase as you rise through the enlisted ranks. An enlistee may rise through the lower ranks fairly quickly, although promotions tend to happen less frequently after the rank of E-4 because the number of these positions are limited by Congress.

Becoming a noncommissioned officer

A service member reaches the rank of noncommissioned officer at the rank of E-4 or E-5, depending on their branch of service and military title. Noncommissioned officers are high-ranking enlisted members who have been given leadership authority.

Becoming a commissioned officer in the military

A commissioned military officer holds a four-year college degree or higher and has undergone officer training. There are several paths to earning an officer commission in the armed forces.

Reserve Officers’ Training Corps

Some 1,700 colleges and universities nationwide offer ROTC. This military training program grants scholarships to help pay for college in exchange for military service after graduation. Students enrolled in ROTC attend training and take specialized classes alongside their regular academic classes.

Learn more about the ROTC program at each service branch:

Military service academies

Each service branch has its own undergraduate institution that educates and trains its future leaders. Admission to military academies is highly competitive. Students should begin preparing during high school to ensure they meet the high standards and strict requirements for acceptance. Military academies offer free tuition and room and board in exchange for a commitment to serve as an active- duty officer for a period of time after graduation, usually at least five years.

Learn more about each military academy:

Officer school

College graduates who want to serve as military officers can apply to Officer Candidate School (called Officer Training School in the Air Force). This intensive program spans between 9 1/2 to 12 weeks, depending on the service, and prepares candidates to become officers.

Learn more about Officer Training School and Officer Candidate School by service branch.

Direct commission

Direct commissions may be available to civilians with certain highly-specialized professional degrees that are in demand in the services. Doctors, lawyers, clergy and engineers are among the professionals who are most in demand and therefore most likely to receive a direct commission. Professionals who receive a direct commission receive officer training to help them transition from civilian to military life and learn leadership skills.

Transitioning from enlisted to commissioned officer

Though less common, enlisted members may apply to become a commissioned officer. If you are well-qualified and hold a bachelor’s degree, you may be nominated by a commanding officer to attend officer candidate or officer training school. Some branches of service offer programs in which an enlistee earns a college degree and attends officer school while serving in the military.

Warrant officers

It is also possible to become a warrant officer — a technical and tactical leader — without holding a four-year college degree. Warrant officer pay grades are designated W-1 through W-5 (W-2 through W-4 in the Navy). The Air Force is the only service that does not have the rank of warrant officer.

Serving as a commissioned officer in the military

Officers have significant responsibility as managers and leaders. A newly minted officer typically starts their career as a second lieutenant (ensign in the Navy). Officer grades are designated O-1 through O-10. Promotions bring an increase in pay and responsibility, but happen only if there is a requirement. That’s because, as with enlisted ranks E-5 and above, the number of officer positions is limited by Congress. Officers may spend several years at each rank before rising to the next, though promotions tends to happen faster in the lower ranks.

Whichever path you choose, a career in the military as either an enlisted service member or as an officer offers both tangible benefits, such as a steady income, paid leave and health care benefits; and intangible benefits, such as the pride of service, being part of a community like no other and knowing that you are serving a vital role in protecting your country.

To learn more about being a part of the military, contact your service branch recruiter or call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647.