Oh, How I Love The IRS

Being in the military means that there are all sorts of special rules for filing your income tax returns.  From automatic extensions of time to file, to not having to count combat pay for earned income purposes, to some allowances being non-taxable – it’s not easy to keep track of all the details.  I spent a ridiculous amount of time each year dealing with all the tax stuff that comes with being a military family.  Most of it is a benefit to us, so it is definitely worth my energy, but it is a lot of work.

The IRS, I must say, does not make it any easier.  They are forever writing to us and asking questions about the dates that my husband has gone in and out of combat zones, or disallowing some credit for some cockamamie reason, or questioning my application of the rules that are listed right in their very own Publication 3,  the Armed Forces Tax Guide.

Today, I was delighted to find amongst my many papers a thin little envelope from the IRS.  Upon closer inspection, it was asking my husband to verify the dates he was in a combat zone in 2009-2o1o.  And it was required to be returned by today.  Via mail, or fax.  No email for the IRS.

Since we’re overseas, and we don’t have a phone line at our house, this was a bit problematic.  Eventually we figured out that we could scan the form, send it to my husband’s parents, and ask them to fax it for us.  Thank goodness for really helpful parents!

I’ve heard stories of the IRS coming and asking for old, old information about deployments and trips.  Have any of you had this experience?  Anything good or bad come of it?  This is the second time we’ve been asked to verify my husband’s combat zone dates, and he doesn’t go away much.  Do they check everyone?  How often does this happen?  Curious minds want to know.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • That’s craziness. I have never heard of such a thing, and we’ve had our share of tax-related issues. It’s not like we’re talking huge amounts of money here either. We’re military, folks. You can see how much we make online — and it’s not worth the price of an audit!

    Sorry this happened to you, and thank God for supportive parents!

  • billy

    we are all responeable for our taxes, you being in the service is no excuse, sorry…

  • The tax breaks that are associated with service in a combat zone are significant, and there have been cases of erroneous and fraudulent reporting. It makes sense for the IRS to do some checking and verification. Since it takes time to process returns, assemble data, and determine what should be checked, it’s not unreasonable that the requests for information would come a year or two after the fact. The IRS has stepped up its enforcement efforts in other areas as well. As a tax professional, I’ve seen many verification requests during the past few years. Homebuyer credits, Earned Income Credit eligibility, and filing status issues are examples. The request you received is part of this project, and was probably an automatically generated letter. You’re not being singled out because you are military.