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Economic Stimulus Payments: Especially for Military Combat Personnel

Updated July 18, 2008

This section is for military personnel who are serving in combat zones.


For federal tax purposes, the U.S. Armed Forces includes officers and enlisted personnel in all regular and reserve units controlled by the Secretaries of Defense, the Army, Navy and Air Force. The Coast Guard and National Guard are also included, but not the U.S. Merchant Marine or the American Red Cross.

Normally, combat pay is not counted as income and is not taxable. For the purposes of receiving an economic stimulus payment, however, military personnel serving in combat zones have the option of including their nontaxable combat pay on their 2007 or 2008 income tax returns if it helps their eligibility for the 2008 economic stimulus payments.

To receive the stimulus payment this year, combat zone personnel or their spouses must file a tax year 2007 income tax return by Oct. 15, 2008. Otherwise, they can claim the economic stimulus payment on next year’s income tax return.

Military personnel who normally would not file an income tax return because their 2007 income is not taxable can file a simple Form 1040A with the IRS if they want to receive the economic stimulus payment. They should report their nontaxable combat pay on line 40b of the Form 1040A to show at least $3,000 in qualifying income. The Department of Defense lists the amount of excluded combat pay, along with the designation, “Code Q,” in box 12 of Form W-2.

The IRS has developed Package 1040A-3, an 8-page publication containing tax tips, a sample Form 1040A and a blank Form 1040A. The package contains everything needed to file the return immediately.

Basic Eligibility Requirements
  • You have, or your family has, at least $3,000 in qualifying income from, or in combination with, Social Security benefits, certain Veterans Affairs benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits and earned income. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does not count as qualifying income for the stimulus payment.

  • You are not a dependent or eligible to be a dependent on someone else’s federal tax return. (The same must be true of any family members claimed on your return.)

Due to a new law change, the spouses and children of married military personnel are not required to have valid Social Security Numbers.

To Claim Your Payment

If you normally don’t file a federal tax return but must file one this year solely to claim your economic stimulus payment, you should file by Oct. 15, 2008, to ensure that you receive the payment this year. Find out where to send your tax return.

It will generally take a minimum of eight weeks after you file your return to get your stimulus payment.

Free Tax Help Available

Individuals who need to file a return this year to receive a stimulus payment may be able to take advantage of free tax preparation sites nationwide for low-income and older taxpayers.

Free File - Economic Stimulus Payment provides free tax preparation software and electronic filing for people who are submitting a return solely to receive their economic stimulus payment

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides help to low- and moderate-income taxpayers. Call 1-800-906-9887 to locate the nearest VITA site.

IRS employees will help prepare Form 1040A returns for low-income workers, retirees, disabled veterans and others at IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers. For a list of centers in your state and their hours of operation, Contact My Local Office.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 28-Apr-2014