For direct online access to VA benefits and resources, create an account here.
This year, the deadline for Americans to file their income taxes, is Tuesday, April 17.
While it’s one of the infamous “certainties in life” that Benjamin Franklin detailed all the way back in the first year of George Washington’s presidency — it’s also a duty of being an upstanding citizen. Not only do the dues pay for our military, and support the brave men and women who serve and protect us every single day, but they’re also responsible for countless other things that are essential to our democracy — roads, social programs and education among them.
Veterans benefits, too.
Fortunately, included in the latter are resources for military vets to help them file for free, or for less. Here are nine:
IRS Free File
If you made less than $66,000 during 2017 you may qualify for free, brand name software offered through a partnership between the IRS and tax software companies. Vets (or any American) can access it through the link above.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance & Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs
There are almost 8,000 sites across the nation through this program (otherwise known as VITA and TCE) and each one has, working inside, IRS-certified volunteers who do Americans’ taxes at no charge. Since its creation, almost a million returns of veterans have been completed. To see if you qualify, click the link above (TCE is primarily for those 60 years or older).
Earned Income Tax Credit
About two million veteran households receive this every year. It’s a refundable federal income tax credit for low-to-moderate income, working individuals and families. To learn more and see if you qualify, click the link above.
Free Financial Coaching for Veterans
There’s an initiative, run by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Office of the Servicemember Affairs that places certified financial coaches to Americans seeking advisement. There’s a phone number, 1-844-90-GOALS, but you can also click the link above to find a coach.
Special Tax Considerations
Vets may be able to claim a federal tax refund if there’s an increase in the veterans’ percentage of disability (per the VA). Combat-disabled vets may also be eligible if they are applying for, or were granted Combat-Related Special Compensation through an award for Concurrent Retirement and Disability.
For more information, click on the link above.
Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016
This federal law, which went into effect in 2017, is to protect combat injured-vets separated from the military from being taxed on their one-time lump sum disability severance payment from the DoD. It also features a wrinkle to identify veterans who were taxed on this — so that they may be alerted and file an amended return and receive their rightful refund.
For more information, tips and the official IRS form to file an amended return, click on the link above.
Overall, this is a free resource for active-duty, National Guard and Reserve military members and their immediate family (or former service members up to 180 days of separation or retirement from the military). It’s run by the Department of Defense, and offers — among many other things — something called MilTax. Veterans can get it by clicking the link above, by which they’ll access the following: online software for eligible individuals to electronically file a federal and up to three state returns for free, as well as tax consultation related to deployment, combat pay, multi-state filing and military-specific deductions and credits.
VA Disability Benefits
Veterans should not include VA disability benefits in their gross income. This includes grants for homes redesigned for wheelchairs, grants for motor vehicles as well as ones that stem from dependent care assistance programs. For more information, click on the link above.
For similar information, resources and tips specific to the active-duty military community, click here.