Successfully navigate 2017 tax season

  • Published
  • By Capt. Justin A. Mitchell
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Office of the Judge Advocate
The Internal revenue Service is expected to begin accepting 2016 Tax Returns on Jan. 24, 2017. While some of us may be used to getting our refunds in early January, many refunds will be delayed several weeks this year because of a new law and increased safeguards against identity theft and fraud. For those claiming the earned income tax credit or the additional child tax credit (a refundable tax credit for parents), you won’t see your money until after February 15, even if you are an early filer.

That said, the IRS has issued numerous statements reminding taxpayers that most refunds will be issued within the normal timeframe - less than 21 days - after being accepted for processing by the IRS. After applying, you can check on the status of a refund by going to, downloading the free IRS2Go application to your smart phone or calling the automated refund hotline at 1-800-829-1954.

One issue that is near and dear to our command is combat zone deadline extensions. In a year, we have hundreds of Cannon personnel deploying to places around the world. Spouses: don’t stop reading here, this extension applies not only to the deployed active duty member, but also to their dependents.

In general, when deployed, the deadlines for performing certain actions applicable to our air commandos’ taxes (i.e. filing and making payments) are extended for the period of their service in the combat zone, plus 180 days after the last day in the combat zone. While not all deployments are within combat zones, some of the currently recognized combat zones are Afghanistan, and the Kosovo and Arabian Peninsula areas.

However, just because they may not be in a recognized combat zone, members of the United States Armed Forces who perform military service in an area outside a combat zone qualify for the extension of time provisions if their service is in direct support of military operations in the combat zone, and they receive special pay for duty subject to hostile fire or imminent danger as certified by the Department of Defense. Please reach out to your legal office if you have any questions regarding countries which have been certified by the DoD for combat zone benefits. They range from Pakistan and Djibouti to Jordan and Lebanon.

Generally, the IRS is notified that the Airman is deployed in one of these zones, but to confirm that they have received that information, you should e-mail the deployed member's name, stateside address, date of birth, and date of deployment to or call the IRS main helpline at 800-829-1040.

If you decide that you don’t want to wait to file or you discover a service member’s spouse is not deployed to a recognized combat zone, be sure to have them create a power of attorney and attach it to your tax return. You will need to use IRS Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative. You can find the form on the IRS web site and if your service member spouse has already left, they should be able to print it out and complete it (with notarized signature) downrange.

Remember that there may be penalties if you do not file prior to the April 17, 2017 deadline. If you want advice regarding any potential tax credits, please contact your legal office to schedule an appointment with an attorney.