Free Tax Help for Veterans

by Contributing Writer

Veterans, military personnel and their families may be eligible for free tax help. The IRS announced the 2009 income guidelines for Free File online. Additionally, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs are available at military bases and many locations nationwide. Most sites offer volunteer tax assistance and free electronic filing. Plan early to find the tax help that best suits your needs.

Free File Online Filing

Free File is a private tax software company that works in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service to offer free electronic tax preparation and e-filing to all income qualifying individuals whose adjusted gross income is $56,000 or less. Their Web site must be accessed through the link on the main IRS Web site (http://www.IRS.gov) and is available on Jan. 15 of each calendar year. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and with direct-deposit can get you a refund within 10 days.

Resources and Publications

Income qualifying veterans and military personnel who are unable to prepare their own taxes can locate the nearest VITA site by calling 1-800-906-9887. Senior veterans can call the TCE programs at 1-800-829-1040 or AARP’s Tax-Aid at 1-888-227-7669. AARP Tax-Aid also has a Web site that offers year-round assistance with federal tax questions and up-to-date information on programs such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Important publications from the IRS include the "Armed Forces Tax Guide" and "Taxable and Nontaxable Income" to help veterans distinguish which disability benefits are tax exempt. You can retrieve these publications online or order them along with all your tax forms by calling 1-800-829-3676.

Military Service Personnel

Active-duty military personnel who serve in combat zones and their families are eligible to receive a special filing extension of 180 days from their return to file their returns. There are also combat tax benefits and guidelines for the earned income tax credit that may apply. Additionally, the fall stimulus payment program has been expanded to provide extra benefits for family members without Social Security numbers. Detailed information is available in the Armed Forces Tax Guide (http://www.IRS.gov).

Veteran’s With Disabilities

New rules are also in effect for disabled veterans and their families. Many rehabilitation program payments are now tax exempt. Additionally, the earned income tax credit has been expanded and may apply to many disabled veterans. The IRS Web site has many resources under the heading of Information for Veteran’s With Disabilities (http://www.IRS.gov).

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