Military affairs beat: Tax prep help for military families

  • Article by: MARK BRUNSWICK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 3, 2012 - 7:16 PM

The Minnesota Department of Revenue is providing valuable tax information for the state's military families. It will become especially important as tax deadlines approach at about the same time 2,500 members of the Minnesota National Guard are expected to return home from a yearlong deployment to Kuwait.

Last week, the department unveiled its program, which offers tools and resources aimed at lightening the load of tax preparation for service men and women. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar joined federal and state tax officials to highlight the free online income tax preparation and e-filing service.

The department has a team of employees to help explain tax credits that can save service members and their families money, changes in tax law, and how to file their tax forms. It is holding support conferences at reintegration meetings to ensure that military families can have confidence in filing their returns and is expected to travel to meet with returning soldiers before they arrive home. There's also the "free file" program for military members and their families.

Among the benefits to military families: a $120 credit for each month served in a combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area on or after Jan. 1, 2010; a possible income tax credit of as much as $750 for past military service; a possible subtraction for active duty or training pay; possible savings for disabled veterans on their homestead's property taxes (to qualify you must have a service-related disability of 70 percent or more).

"Free File" is a partnership between government and private tax software companies. It is designed to help individuals and families file their federal and state tax returns quickly, easily and at no charge.

To learn about Free File, go to www.taxprephelp.org. To find out more and file your taxes for free, visit www.freefile.irs.gov or taxes.state.mn.us and click "Individual Income Tax," then "Online services," then "See if you qualify to e-file for free!"

mbrunswick@startribune.com 612-673-4434

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