Tax Filing As a Military Spouse

Tax Filing As A Military Spouse
Tax time is can be confusing, we help you understand the details. (Stock photo)

Moving around as a military spouse creates all sorts of challenges, especially when it comes time to file your income tax returns. The biggest question is usually: where do I file? Thankfully, the law is pretty clear and simple.

For most people, moving means changing your legal residence (domicile), and paying state taxes in the state where they are domiciled. Active duty folks, through the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, are not required to change their domicile when they move, and they are allowed to file their state income taxes in the state where they are domiciled. Since the 2009 Military Spouses Residency Relief Act, military spouses have also been able to maintain their domicile, and pay taxes in that location, "if the residence or domicile, as the case may be, is the same for the service member and the spouse."

Therefore, there are only two options for where military spouses can file their state income taxes: in the state where they are domiciled, if it "is the same for the service member and spouse," or in the state where they are physically living.

This may mean that a military spouse has to file in a different state from their active duty service member, or may have to file in more than one state, if they moved during the year.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act does and does not say, but it is actually pretty simple. A military spouse is permitted to retain their legally obtained domicile if they leave the state due to their active duty member's PCS orders, and they may file income taxes in that state, as long as the domicile of both the military member and the spouse is the same.

The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act does not authorize a military spouse to use any other state for their tax home, nor does it provide any mechanism for the military spouse to obtain or regain residency in the state of their active duty servicemember's domicile.

I am sure you have heard a wide variety of different things from different people, and there is a LOT of misinformation out there. Even official sources that were published shortly after the law's passage often contain inaccurate information.​

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