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Tax Information for Members of the U.S. Armed Forces

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 is also included, but not the U.S. Merchant Marine or the American Red Cross. However, these and other support personnel may qualify for certain tax deadline extensions because of their service in a combat zone.


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Consumer Alert

June 2012

Taxpayers should be on the lookout for a new, email-based phishing scam now circulating that targets Department of Defense military members, retirees and civilian employees. The email appears to come from Defense Finance and Accounting Services and displays a .mil email address. The email states that those receiving disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may be able to obtain additional funds from the IRS. Email recipients are then asked to send various VA and IRS documents containing their personal and financial information, such as copies of VA award letters or their income tax returns, to an address in Florida.

The information on these documents is then used by the scammers to commit identity theft. Typically, identity thieves use someone’s personal data to empty the victim’s financial accounts, run up charges on the victim’s existing credit cards or apply for new loans, credit cards, services or benefits in the victim’s name.

For more information on phishing scams, please see Suspicious e-Mails and Identity Theft.

Tax Laws Affecting the Military

These tax laws provide some special benefits for active members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including those serving in combat zones.


Combat Zones



  • Publication 3, Armed Forces' Tax Guide, addresses a wide range of issues that may affect members of the military:
    • Online — browse the publication to find specific information;
    • Portable Document Format (PDF) — download a copy to read later or print select pages;
    • Hardcopy — order a paper copy by calling 1-800-829-3676. 



News Releases (IR) and Fact Sheets (FS) 

  • IR-2010-47 — Haiti Relief Workers Qualify for Combat Zone Extension; Military Personnel and Designated Civilians Have at Least 180 Days to File and Pay
  • IR-2007-46 — Free Online Tax Filing Available to Many Military Members
  • IR-2006-152 — Active Duty Reservists Get Relief on Retirement Plan Payments; Refunds of 10-Percent Tax Available Back to 2001, New Law Says
  • IR-2006-129 — New Law Expands IRA Options for Military; Many Can Still Contribute for 2004 and 2005
  • IR-2003-132 — IRS Helps Military Personnel Get New Law's Tax Breaks
  • IR-2003-63 — New Tax Scam Targets Families of Armed Forces Members
  • IR-2003-43 — Tax Assistance for Military Families; Page for Armed Forces
  • FS-2003-11 — Information for Taxpayers Serving in the Armed Forces
  • IR-2002-18 — Tax Relief for Troops in the Afghanistan Combat Zone.


Legal Guidance

  • Revenue Ruling 2009-11 — Differential Wage Payments to Active Duty Members of the Uniformed Services
  • Notice 2003-21 — Tax Relief for Those Involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
  • Notice 2002-17 — Tax Relief for Those Involved in Operation Enduring Freedom.


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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 20-Mar-2015