WASHINGTON - If it hasn't arrived yet, your 2013 W-2 wage and tax statement likely is on its way, and with it the countdown toward the April 15 tax filing deadline.
As preparations begin for the upcoming tax season, military families are being offered a free service to ensure they can meet that deadline from anywhere they may be stationed around the world.
Military OneSource, partnering with H&R Block, is offering all active duty, Guard and reserve forces help in preparing their taxes and in filing their federal and state returns, in addition to the variety of other financial planning services it already provides free of charge.
"No matter where you are, when you call 800-342-9647 or go to [the Military OneSource website], you can access the programs and services," Tony Jackson, a military community and family policy analyst for the service, told American Forces Press Service.
The program is designed to address the unique tax requirements and issues affecting military personnel and their families, Jackson said.
With many still likely dealing with holiday credit card bills, the April tax deadline may seem far off. But with many military families having to file multiple state tax returns in addition to federal taxes, beginning the work now on gathering tax-related documents can prevent headaches later.
"Now is the time to prepare, to gather your documents and your questions," Jackson said, "and [you can] to speak to a tax consultant at no cost at Military OneSource."
Additional paperwork at tax time for those living outside their home state that may have rental property or may be subject to taxes where they are currently deployed is a common additional burden, he noted.
Military OneSource will provide help filing a federal tax return, as well as up to three state returns, at no charge.
Jackson said some 224,000 federal and state tax returns were prepared for military families last year.
"Nobody ever gets turned away," he said.
The program's tax experts are able to help military families navigate changes in tax laws that may have a particular impact on or benefit for members of the military - as well as any tax implications related to military benefits, he added.
"They are nationally certified financial planners, so they are definitely qualified to assist families and service members," regardless of the topic, Jackson said.
Reserve component members are eligible for the free service regardless of their activation status, as are veterans within 180 days of being discharged, retired or separated.
The Defense Department established Military OneSource in 2002 to provide comprehensive information on military life free of charge to military families.