Guard/Reserve Members Lose Travel-Expense Tax Deduction After 2017

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By Debbie Gregory.

On December 20, 2017, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) designed to cut taxes on individuals and businesses, stimulate the economy, and create jobs. But one aspect of the act will have an impact on Guard and Reserve  members who travel less than 100 miles from home to military duty:  after filing their 2017 tax returns, they will no longer be able to deduct any unreimbursed travel expenses.

Lawmakers raised the standard deduction for single filers from $6,500 to $12,000, but also reduced the amount of personal deductions in the reform bill. As a result, some individuals with more unusual financial situations will see their taxes rise slightly, as those exemptions disappear.

According to Army Lt. Col. David Dulaney, executive director of the Armed Forces Tax Council, beginning with tax year 2018, the tax act suspends all miscellaneous itemized deductions, which included the itemized deduction reserve-component members could take for unreimbursed employee expenses on Schedule A of their Internal Revenue Service Form 1040.

While those who drill less than 100 miles away from their home won’t be able to take an itemized deduction, hey may be able to file for reimbursement from the Defense Department.

Those who drill more than 100 miles from home still can deduct their unreimbursed expenses as an above-the-line adjustment to their gross income.

On the flip side, more than 133,000 veterans may qualify for a refund of federal taxes they paid on disability severance pay dating back to 1991 ― taxes that shouldn’t have been collected in the first place.

Eligible veterans will have a year after they receive the notice to file a claim for the refund.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Guard & Reserve May Get Vet Status & Preference!

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By Debbie Gregory.

In a move that is long overdue, two bills in front of Congress could be a big boon for Guard and Reserve members.

Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act contains two no-cost initiatives that would  honor their service by granting “veteran” status to 200,000 Reserve and National Guard retirees who, according to federal law, do not technically qualify as veterans.

Many civilians are surprised to learn that this is not a done deal for those who serve. While there are benefits for serving in the Guard and Reserve, they do differ from those who served in the active duty forces.

Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act, (in the House- H.R. 1384,  in the Senate- S 743) has been around for a while, but now may be closer than ever to being passed. It was introduced by Sen. John Boozman (Rep-AR) in March, 2015.

The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has been hesitant to support the measure out of concern that passage would make retired Guard and reserve members think they are eligible for benefits they have not earned.

The second initiative would make an increased number of former Reserve and Guard members eligible for veteran preference.

Veterans preference recognizes the sacrifices made by those who serve, giving them preference over non-Veterans in both Federal hiring practices and in retention during reductions in force. Preference applies in hiring for many positions within the Federal competitive service, and provides a uniform method by which special consideration is given to qualified Veterans.

If an individual signs on, devotes years of his or her life to being ready to serve at a moment’s notice, they should receive the respect given to veterans.

These men and women served honorably and should not be penalized simply because their country did not call them up to active duty for the full requisite period of time.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.