Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect the 2021 Filing Season.
7th Army Training Command Legal Office
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — U.S. Army Europe and Africa will not offer face-to-face tax preparation and filing services this year, due to fiscal constraints and manning shortages. But there are free online services available to active-duty service members; alternatively, service members may choose to hire a commercial preparer to file their taxes. Regardless of the method, individuals remain responsible for filing a complete and accurate return. So here’s what you should know:
What you need to know about this tax year
The tax filing season begins Feb. 12, and the deadline is May 17, 2021. U.S. citizens living abroad are granted an automatic two-month extension. The extended deadline is June 15, 2021. As a reminder, do not forget that you must attach a statement to your return when you submit it — explaining why you qualify for the extension.
- As of March 17, 2021: The IRS announced that the federal income tax filing date has been automatically extended to from April 15 to May 17, 2021. This postponement applies to individual taxpayers, including individuals who pay self-employment tax. Penalties, interest and additions to tax will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of May 17, 2021. Individual taxpayers will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by May 17.
- The federal tax filing deadline postponement — to May 17 — only applies to individual federal income returns and tax (including tax on self-employment income) payments otherwise due April 15, 2021, not state tax payments or deposits or payments of any other type of federal tax. Taxpayers also will need to file income tax returns in 42 states plus the District of Columbia.
Filing options for service members
The U.S. Army does not endorse any specific tax preparation service. However, these are low-cost and free options for USAG Bavaria community members:
- H&R Block offers tax services at a discounted rate. In-person commercial services are offered at the Tower Barracks Exchange and Rose Barracks Pxtra.
- IRS: Free File is a public-private partnership between the IRS and many tax preparation and filing software industry leaders who provide their brand-name products for free.
- MilTax is a free, secure and confidential e-filing software that is provided by the Department of Defense. Military One Source also offers access to tax consultants who can answer questions.
- TaxSlayer has a military offer that allows active-duty military to e-file a federal return for free. Do expect an additional cost when filing state taxes.
- TurboTax has a military discount that allows all enlisted active-duty military and reservists to file their 2020 federal and state taxes for free. This offer is not valid for officers, and it excludes TurboTax Live products.
Documents you will need to file your taxes
When using any tax preparation software or paid service, you will need to have certain documents available. For service members using software, it is likely you will need your prior year return to set up an account. Once you created an account, follow the prompts to input data from your current year tax documents. Finally, use your prior year return to check your current return. Remember to include all bank and interest bearing accounts, student loan interest, childcare expenses and taxable information.
- Social Security Card/SSNs (or ITIN) for all persons claimed on the tax return
- Form W-2: Shows the amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck for the year and is used to file your federal and state taxes
- Form 1098: Real estate tax documents including mortgage interest statements
- Form 1099: Alimony, child support or related payment agreements, interest and dividends, earnings from self-employment
- Any other documents indicating earned income, such as scholarships
- Any documented income from rental properties
- Records of moving expenses related to a new military assignment, retirement, separation and etc.
- Receipts/documentation for deductibles
- Child and dependent care information
Although the 7th ATC Office of the Staff Judge Advocate no longer provides tax preparation services, the OSJA will continue to provide free tax advice and assistance, such reviewing a letter from the IRS, in the normal course of LAO. For more information on requesting a regular legal assistance appointment please visit the SJA page.