Video: Tax Tips for Veterans

Updated for Tax Year 2019


OVERVIEW

As a military veteran, you must also file taxes. But, you can take advantage of several tax benefits the government has made available. Watch this video to see what tax breaks you may be eligible for.


Video transcript:

Hello, I’m Nick from TurboTax, with important news for military veterans.

As a veteran of the military, you have the same obligation to file a return and pay taxes as other Americans do.

But in appreciation of your service to the country, there are a number of benefits the federal government offers you that can ultimately save you money on your tax bill.

The first thing you should understand is that any pension you receive if you retire from the military is fully taxable and must be reported on your tax return.

However, if you suffer from a disability and receive disability payments instead, or in addition to your pension, those payments are tax-free and you don’t need to report them on your return.

In some cases, the Department of Veterans Affairs may determine that you are disabled and unable to work after you retire from military service and have been collecting your taxable pension.

If Veterans Affairs decides to issue a retroactive directive—meaning that it recognizes your disability as of a prior date rather than on the date it makes the determination—you may be able to amend your past returns and receive a refund for the taxes you’ve paid on your pension.

This is because the IRS recognizes that for certain periods you were receiving a taxable pension, you should have been receiving tax-free disability payments.

As a way to correct the situation, you can eliminate the pension payments you’ve reported on past returns—but only up to the amount of disability payments you would have been eligible for in those years.

You can amend your tax returns by filing a 1040X form for each year you want a refund, but they can only cover the tax years that don’t begin more than five years from the date Veterans Affairs makes its determination. This is longer than the typical three year limit to file for a refund.

You may receive other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs that are not taxable to you or your family members who receive payments as well.

These include allowances for educational training, the proceeds and dividends of a veterans’ insurance program and grants you receive to make your home more wheelchair accessible.

Enlisted active duty and reserve military can enjoy TurboTax Online for free

In honor of our nation's military personnel, all enlisted active duty and reserve military can file free federal and state taxes with TurboTax Online using the TurboTax Military Discount. The #1 best-selling tax software, TurboTax easily handles military tax situations including:

  • Military and civilian income—including combat pay, BAS and BAH
  • Military-related expenses—TurboTax will find every deduction you deserve
  • Completed a PCS—TurboTax will determine your state of residence

Simply start your TurboTax Online return and use your military W-2 to verify rank, and your savings will be applied when you file. Get started today for free.

Military veteran strapping down truck

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