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Why Taxes Aren't So Crazy for Military Families

If you’ve been listening to personal finance news at all recently, you’ve probably heard two things about this tax season – it’s going to be complicated for most people, and the Internal Revenue Service’s help centers aren’t exactly staffed to handle it.

But how does that impact active duty military families?

For the most part, it doesn’t.

Taxes and military: Active duty troops have it easy(ish) on the tax front this year.

Before anything else let me say – I am not a tax expert or a lawyer or an IRS employee, and you really should consult one of those before sending me an email with technical tax questions. While that disclaimer may not inspire a world of confidence in this blog post, judging by the flood of email I got after writing this news story, it’s necessary.

However, I AM a reporter. And here’s what I know:

The good news is that all the ways that make this tax season especially confusing for most of America don’t really apply to the active duty military. That’s because troops and almost all of their dependents have coverage through Tricare and have long before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare, started requiring it. Taxes and military life aren't necessarily easy (when are taxes ever easy?) but they shouldn't be quite as bad as for the rest of America.

But there IS something you have to do.

Like every tax filing American, Tricare users are going to have to “self-identify” on their forms as having the minimal required coverage. Kate over at Paycheck Chronicles has a really great, easy to read tutorial on how that works. Read it.

No seriously, read it.

Like Kate details, the only active duty users whose Tricare plans DON’T meet that requirement are the parents and parents-in-law using Tricare as a military dependent of their child. Those folks use Tricare on a space-available basis, and that doesn’t meet the rule. They are going to need to buy other coverage or pay a fine starting next year. For this year, however, they are covered under an exemption (which you can claim by filing a form with your income tax return -- more info here from the IRS. Warning: it is in IRS-eese, not English.)

The good news? Active duty troops have plenty of access to free tax help.

Talk about a relief. Active duty troops and family members have plenty of options when it comes to assistance with their taxes. In person, online … you name it, it’s available.

Both Kate and our friends over at the Military.com Deals and Discounts page have put together a great list of these options.

Don’t be a hero and try to take on taxes alone – say “yes” to some help.

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