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Free Online Tax Filing Available for Military Members


The IRS uses a free tax filing service, complete with software, for calculating the different sections of your return on a service called Free File. Free File can only be used by military members if their adjusted gross income for 2010 was $58,000 or less. The software is easy to use, accurate and can be used to file your taxes anywhere you have access to the Internet. You can also file for an extension using Free File.

Free File has free tax preparation software available for many different types of situations including joint returns and business/self-employed returns (if your spouse runs her own business this is very helpful). Free File is a great alternative to use if you want your refunds to come faster and can also calculate the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

One downside to Free File is that private companies administer the program so if you have questions or need help, you will have to deal with them rather than the IRS. You also have to link to the company through the IRS to get the Free File free rate. This seems strange because after you use the service once, it makes sense to go back and use the same company directly. But if you do that you might be charged a fee. Additional fees may also apply if you are filing Free File and in the process discover that you no longer meet the $58,000 threshold. Fees can also apply if you end up needing additional forms. In this particular situation, you can easily copy the calculations from the Free File forms onto free downloadable IRS forms, print the lot and send it in.

Military members can also get help for free and file for free using one of the Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC) offices or a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Office (VITA applies if your income is below $49,000). Using AFTC is very useful because these tax specialists are versed in the sections of the tax code that apply to military members. Both VITA and AFTC can help you file your return electronically for free and this will expedite your refund as quickly or quicker than using Free File.

You can also start your return using Free File as mentioned above and then take the return and the necessary documents to a VITA or AFTC office and have them improve it, check it and file it electronically for you. The advantage to doing it this way is you are less likely to forget one of the many documents you need to take to the VITA or AFTC Office.

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