Ahhh, tax season. If you asked me last year what season it was I’d say, “Spring? Winter? I don’t know. Its all the same where I live.” But now I’m old. I’m married and I’m a mom. So now, its tax season.
I’ve never done taxes before. Ever. I even would get confused on what I was supposed to fill out for my W-2’s when I worked in the real world. I can’t tell you how many times I called my parents to ask them what I was supposed to put. When I was younger and in college, I didn’t do my taxes. My parents had them done by someone. I would just sign. The guy even put little stickeys next to the places I needed to sign. Idiot proof. Perfect.
As a married woman, James handled the taxes (you know, for all the 2 years we’ve been married). But during this glorious season, he’s gone. So guess who gets to do the taxes?
Nope, not me.
That’s right. I’m not doing taxes. Nope, not even going to try. I looked to see what all was needed to do them. I had my W-2 from the *2* days I worked last year (that’s a lie, I worked like 6 months). I had James’ W-2. And then I looked up online (because now they make it even more idiot proof and let you file online) and I nearly had a panic attack. This is the dialogue that was running in my head:
Me: “Wait, we’re filing jointly right?”
Me: “Ok, wait, so do I fill this out as if I’m James? Do I check head of household? Why does he get to be head of household? I’m the one that runs this house! Ok, focus.”
Brain: “Seriously, get a grip.”
Me: “Do I add in both our incomes? I don’t get it. Where’s my calculator, I can’t add. WTH is taxable interest? Are we tax exempt? Don’t we get money for having a baby? At least she’s doing something to add to the family income since she’s still not washing her own diapers.”
Brain: “Wow, you should just give up.”
Me: “I give up.”
Then I emailed James and told him that I didn’t know what I was doing. I don’t think he was surprised by that. Now, I could have been the responsible adult and packed up Evelyn and all our papers and took it to the 800 different tax people they have here on base (most bases will have tax prep people come, look over your taxes, and help you complete them all for free. Really awesome because taxes while in the military can be really confusing with combat pay and uniform expenses). But nope, I’m doing the other awesome thing that is provided to us by the US Government.
A tax extension.
**Side note: I actually did go over to one of the volunteer truck/trailer thingys here on base to double-check that I was reading everything correctly on the IRS website. These people had no idea what they were talking about. It was like I was speaking a foreign language to them and they were on a military base. You’d think they would know something about our tax extension. I had to tell them the number of days we have to file taxes. Seriously? Moral of the story: Do your own research. They are probably great for making sure that you didn’t screw up your taxes, though. Maybe. /note**
That’s right people, since my husband is over there protecting your (our) behinds from the crazies, we don’t have to file our taxes on time. As a member of the military in a combat zone (and the spouse) we have 180 days from when the deployed spouse returns from the combat zone to file our taxes. In addition, we also get any days from the day he deployed to tax (starting January 1st) day added onto those 180 days. In other words, if he deployed April 10th, we get 5 extra days because those are days that he “could have” prepared taxes.
Best part? I don’t even have to file for an extension.
If the IRS comes a-knocking on my door asking why I didn’t pay our taxes on time, I just have to tell them my husband is deployed and in a combat zone. BOOM (::enter hand flash in IRS guy’s face here::). Done. If you want to be a little more proactive, you can send the IRS a letter or..get this…an EMAIL stating that your spouse is a deployed service member (and include “in a combat zone” if applicable).
Here is the actual verbage taken from the IRS website:
If you are in the military or naval services on duty outside of the United States and Puerto Rico on the due date of your income tax return, you are allowed an automatic 2–month extension to June 15 to file your income tax return. Please note, this automatic extension is an extension to file your tax return, not an extension of time to pay any tax owed by the regular due date of the return. In such situations, interest is charged on any taxes owed from April 15 to the date the taxes are paid. You can also request an additional 4-month extension by filing Form 4868, Application For Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Tax Return, by June 15. Be sure to check the box on Line 8 – ‘out of the country’ on the form.
If you are serving in a combat zone or in a contingency operation (or are hospitalized as a result of an injury received while serving in such an area or operation), you qualify for extensions of deadlines. The deadlines for filing tax returns, paying taxes, filing claims for refund, and taking other actions with the IRS are extended to at least 180 days after you leave the designated combat zone or contingency operation. You are able to notify IRS directly of your request for combat zone relief for extensions of deadlines through a special e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There aren’t a whole lot of things our government has done right (achem, Obamacare) but this is one of them. If you would like more information on filing taxes as a member or family member of the US Armed Forces, please visit the links below. PS- For those who can’t understand any crap the IRS writes down (::raises hand::) there is a short video clip explaining the tax extension. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
Tax Information for Member of the US Armed Forces– this has several different links regarding specific topics you may come across as a military member including military tax breaks and Economic Stimulus Package specific to military members.
Questions and Answers on Combat Zone Tax Provisions– this page answers questions about designated combat zones, situations where extensions do and do not apply, and special military tax exemptions.
Combat Pay Video
I hope this little info sesh helped any military confused about taxes. Seriously, H&R Block should hire me as a consultant. You’re welcome for me taking my all-important Friday afternoon to explain this to you. I’ll send you the bill. Warning: I’m expensive.