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Active Duty Military Member’s Guide to Military Tax Benefits


January 26, 2024

Military life’s unique situations, like regular moves and deployments, can make tax season tricky for active duty military members to navigate. The IRS lists certain benefits – provisions in the tax code that work to reduce your tax liability – for active duty service members who qualify. 

This overview is intended to guide you toward appropriate resources and professional advice.

Remember: This information is for general understanding only and is not intended as legal or tax advice. Tax laws and benefits can vary widely based on individual circumstances. Consult with a qualified tax professional in your state for advice tailored to your specific financial situation.

When Does Tax Filing Start?

Here’s a quick timeline for the 2024 tax season. 

  • January 12: IRS Free File opens for qualified taxpayers (any taxpayer or family with Adjusted Gross Income of $79,000 or less in 2023). Participating IRS Free File software companies begin accepting completed tax returns, holding them until electronic filing begins.
  • January 29: Filing season start date for individual returns. 
  • April 15: Due date for filing a tax return or to request an extension for most of the U.S. 
  • April 17: Due date for Maine and Massachusetts residents.
  • October 15: Due date for those who filed an extension.

3 Top Tax Season Resources for Military Members

These U.S. Government websites are a trustworthy, credible source of information and support for taxpayers.

Military OneSource

Military OneSource is primarily for active duty, National Guard, and Reserve members and their families. Learn more about eligibility.


MyPay is an online service offered by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), mainly for use by military personnel, retired service members, and DOD employees. It allows you to oversee and control different parts of your pay, manage your tax documents, and handle other financial details.


The IRS offers free online tax filing. Choose between guided help from partner websites or fillable online forms, whichever suits your comfort level. Both options let you submit your federal return easily and at no cost.

Navigate Tax Season Smoothly: Tax Benefits for Active Military Members

1. Tax-Free Combat Pay

If you were deployed to a combat zone in 2023, you may be eligible for tax-free combat pay. The exclusion is applied automatically; there’s no action needed on your part. If you qualify, your military organization will certify your entitlement by not including reportable income on your W-2 form.

IRS Resources

2. Moving Expenses Deduction

If you experienced a Permanent Change of Station in 2023, be aware of potential tax breaks. Eligibility for these deductions can vary, so professional advice is recommended.

IRS Resources

3. State Tax Benefits

Some states offer tax benefits, exclusions, and reductions for military members and veterans. State tax benefits vary widely and are subject to change. Always consult with a tax professional or your state’s Department of Revenue for current information.

See also: Complete Listing of U.S. State Dept. of Revenue Websites

4. Free Tax Services

These free tax preparation services are designed to help you navigate tax season:


The Defense Department offers MilTax tax preparation software for free through Military OneSource. (Note: MilTax is also available to Veterans for 365 days after separation.)

MilTax not only provides free tax prep software that’s designed with military life in mind but also 24/7 live consultation services from tax professionals with special training in military-specific tax situations.

IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

The IRS offers an online search engine for finding free tax preparation and filing help in your area. You can search by zip code and determine your eligibility when the tool is updated in February.

What’s next?

There are many tax benefits, exclusions, and entitlements that can make tax season easier for active duty military members and their families. From federal breaks to state-specific options, be sure to be aware of what is available to you and your situation. Don’t forget to: 

  • Stay informed. Things change from year to year. The best way to stay current on the latest tax information is to get it straight from the source: the IRS. 
  • Talk to a professional. Everyone’s situation is unique, which is why it can be helpful to speak to a  tax professional. Make sure you’ve got the right information for you and your family—so you can file an accurate return