Free Tax Filing and Preparation for Military Members

One of the little known benefits of being in the military is access to free tax filing and preparation services. There are several options for military personnel to file their taxes for free, including free tax preparation assistance on base, and free tax prep software you can use online to file your taxes. Some local communities may also offer free tax preparation. We can’t cover each of the local opportunities, but we can let you know about how military members can get free tax preparation on their military installation or through many online tax software programs.

The options covered in this article are usually available to active duty, their families, and in some cases, retirees and their families and civilian personnel, depending on available resources.

Free Tax Service on Base – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

free tax preparation for military

You can get free tax filing help on base.

Most major military installations have a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) office. Marines, Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Reserve members, Guardsmen, and their families worldwide are eligible to receive free tax preparation assistance at offices within their installations. Retirees and some civilian personnel may also be eligible, depending on the location and available resources.

Participating VITA sites provide free tax advice, tax preparation, and assistance to military members and their families. Most importantly, they are trained and equipped to address military specific tax issues such as non-taxable military income, tax-free zones, tax deadline extensions for military members, out of state residency issues, and more. To top it off, the work is usually signed off on by a CPA before it is filed.

Call you local base information office for more details.





Free Tax Preparation Software for Military Members

For those who prefer to do your own taxes, there are several options to e-file your taxes online – free of charge.

  • TurboTax Military Edition. TurboTax created a software program specifically for military members. There is currently a free version for junior enlisted, and a discount for senior enlisted and officers. Read our full review for more information. Or visit the TurboTax Military Edition site.
  • Militaryonesource.com offers a free version of H&R Block At Home®. You must click the link directly from the MilitaryOneSource home page and be logged into your account. This version features one federal return and up to 3 state returns (good for military members who change state residency in a tax year).
  • Taxslayer.com offers free state and federal e-filing for military personnel.
  • IRS Free File is available to taxpayers with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $58,000 or less.
  • TurboTax Freedom Edition, only available to those eligible for IRS Free File.

If you find additional companies, please contact me know and I will add them to the list.

Companies Participating in the IRS Free File Program

The following companies participate in the IRS Free File program. Note that each company may have slightly different eligibility rules and there may be an additional charge for state taxes. Each of these companies guarantees their software and offers Free File and free e-file, so you know your return will be filed with the IRS correctly and on time.

It’s also important to note that not everyone will be eligible for the Free File option – the Free File option only includes a limited number of forms. If you have a more complicated tax situation, or have a small business, complicated investments, rental properties, or other unique situations, you may be required to purchase one of these programs. With each of the programs you will be able to begin your tax return and upgrade without losing your work.

TurboTax - Do your taxes for FreeFree File with TurboTax: TurboTax is the company I have the most experience with as I have used their software for the last few years. The TurboTax software is intuitive and easy to use, and takes you step by step through your return, including various types of income, deductions, tax credits, and more. The TurboTax Free file program supports the following IRS forms: 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ.

  • File your federal tax return free with TurboTax.

Online - H&R Block  Zip.Zero.Zilch 120x90Free File with H&R Block At Home®: H&R Block At Home® is a guaranteed software program and easy to navigate and use. The H&R Block At Home® Free File Online program guides you through a simple, standardized federal tax return to help ensure your taxes are done correctly. The form is pre-selected and there are no forms to select.

FreeTaxUSAFree File with FreeTaxUSA: FreeTaxUsa provides a Free File program for federal taxes and an inexpensive Deluxe Edition for $5.95 per return. There is a $12.95 charge for state tax returns. FreeTaxUSA’s Free File program covers all simple forms of income, deductions, and credits. Check out the FreeTaxUSA site for more details.




However you choose to file your taxes, I hope you are able to get your taxes prepared and filed with few hassles. You may also wish to use this tax refund schedule to find out when you might expect to receive your refund.

TurboTax

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Date published: January 31, 2014. Last updated: October 21, 2014.

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Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of this site. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years in the USAF and also writes about money management, small business, and career topics at Cash Money Life. You can also see his profile on Google

Comments

  1. Active duty members can also use TurboTax for free through the website http://www.taxfreedom.com.

  2. Thanks for the tip, Dan!

  3. Thanks for the heads up Ryan. ;)

  4. I also want to point out that EVERYONE can file their taxes for free this year using the IRS’s freefile fillable forms, regardless of their AGI. Check it out. http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=237156,00.html

    • Thanks for sharing the IRS link, Romeo – I noticed it was updated the day after I published this, so the updated info for the current tax season wasn’t live at the time we published this!

      The main difference with using the IRS freefile forms is that it doesn’t come with software support from one of the major tax software companies (which are guided and often easier to use, especially if you have investments, property, a business, etc.).

  5. Can Army Reserves file there taxes for free on base?

  6. Melissa Kemp says:

    I am now as of April 2012 disable VA . Thank you Ryan, for your invitation. I with the help of HNR Block owe for the first time. On top of that my husband files seperate and owed $ in 2009 in 2010 he owes more. I have know idea which way to run. I do know at this point I cannot let it go. Can they help us?

  7. M J Mueller says:

    For those with tax problems, especially if the IRS has contacted you about late returns or collection issues the service has a separate office available “Taxpayers Advocates Office” in most major cities that offer help in areas that you appear to be caught in a loop without any resolve. They can put a stay on almost any type of enforcement action allowing time to resolve the issue. You must have been dealing with a service employee without any satisfaction before they will assist you. Keep records of all communications. [former agent]

  8. A couple of years ago I claimed 3 of my grandchildren on my taxes. Over a year later the IRS audited my. 2 of the grandchildren lived w/me for 2 years. Their mother abandoned them, their father is my daughter’s Common Law husband. Not recognized in WI. They were all living in my home, Jade {daughter}, Pat {husband} and 5 children. The IRS decided that since the kid’s last name doesn’t match mine {they’re not blood related} I can not claim them. I’ve sent everything. Copies of the drivers’ licenses w/my address. Letters, birth certificates showing Pat as their father. The IRS wants over $4,000.00 back, originally it was over $5,000.00. They admitted a mistake in the audit. How do I fight this? I don’t have over $500.00 to hire a tax attorney. I am a disabled veteran. These children are mine to claim. I have been their grandma for over 9 years now.

  9. I’m trying to help a couple of veterans to not miss out on a substantial tax credit for a grid tied photovoltaic system. They have not filed tax returns with the IRS for several years. My questions are: Are VA benefits taxable? Are VA disability benefits taxable? Is there tax withholding in VA benefit checks? If a veteran fails to file a tax return are they missing out on a refund check? If a veteran has not filed a tax return for years, and then finally does, what are the repercussions? Can a veteran who has not income tax liability receive the tax credits available for the cost of a solar water heating or photovoltaic system?

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