Free Turbo Tax Proves Popular Among DoD Filers

 By Donna Miles
 American Forces Press Service

 WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2006  - A partnership that enables military members and their families to file their tax returns electronically without charge is proving tremendously popular, with 103,000 returns already filed as of Feb. 7, a Military OneSource official told the American Forces Press Service.

"That's a big response!" the official said. More than 97,000 people filed their returns electronically within the first 20 days after being offered free access to Turbo Tax software, she noted. Military OneSource and Intuit, a financial services company, are partnering to offer the Turbo Tax basic product for both federal and state returns at no cost.

In addition to active-duty members and their families, National Guard and Reserve members and their family members also have access the program, regardless of their activation status. Deployed DoD civilians and their families also qualify.

Users can access the software through the Military OneSource Web site. A simple, secure, step-by-step system allows them to save, print and send completed tax forms electronically to the Internal Revenue Service, officials said.

While the Defense Department has a long history of offering tax help to military members, this is the first time DoD has offered the opportunity for them to self-file electronically.

Another free service enables military members and families to make toll-free calls to tax experts from any deployment location in the world, Jan Burke, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy, said in announcing the program in January. The toll-free number is (800) 342-9647. More phone numbers for people living overseas, non-English speakers and people with disabilities are posted on the Military OneSource Web site.

That service could come in particularly handy this year, due to deployments and other circumstances that affect taxable income, Army Lt. Col. Janet Fenton, executive director of the Armed Forces Tax Council, noted recently.

For example, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo all qualify as combat zones where military income is tax exempt. In addition, a recent change in the tax code provides provisions for victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.