Tax season tips, updates Published Feb. 12, 2019 By Capt. Alex J. Ricciardone 66th Air Base Group Judge Advocate Office HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Tax season is in full swing and there are plenty of changes in effect this year that service members and their families should be aware of. The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 along with the 2018 Veterans Benefits and Transition Act bring several large benefits, but also eliminate some deductions that previously were available to service members. The Department of Defense is continuing to offer the MilTax program to help members file their taxes accurately and on time. New residency benefits for spouses The 2018 Servicemembers Civil Relief provides that service members’ spouses can elect to use the same residence for purposes of taxation as the service member, regardless of the date on which the marriage took place. Previously, if a spouse was a resident of California and the member was a resident of Florida, the spouse would have to file a California tax return. This is no longer the case. If the member and the spouse were married before Dec. 31, 2018, the spouse is not required to file a tax return or pay any tax to their home state if they elect the residency of his or her service member’s home state. There are two instances when a spouse would need to file a state tax return in his or her home state. If he or she physically worked in the home state, and therefore would still be subject to the local tax, or he or she had taxes withheld or made estimated payments to that state and wanted to obtain a full refund of all taxes paid. Guard and Reserve drill deduction changes Previously, all Reserve component members were able to deduct their unreimbursed travel, lodging and 50 percent of their meals when they performed duty. The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 changed that to allow the deduction only for members who drive more than 100 miles each way to and from duty. This deduction is no longer a “miscellaneous expense,” but has its own dedicated line on the Form 1040. Tax help There is almost no reason for a service member to pay anyone or any company to complete his or her taxes. For several years, DOD has sponsored its MilTax program in connection with Military One Source. Log onto www.militaryonesource.mil and click the MilTax banner. Members have access to tax software along with access to tax professionals who can provide online and telephone support to help with most complex tax situations. For those in need of even more help, Military One Source will connect members with local in-person support. For further information on any tax issues, contact the Hanscom Legal Office at 781-225-1410.