It’s Time to File, If Only We Had All Our Documents

Thumbs up to my friend Ryan at The Military Wallet, who reminded me that today is the first day that the IRS e-file system is up and running for 2011 tax returns.  Ryan has also put together a great list of the many ways that military families can file their taxes for free, including the free software available through  I have used the MilitaryOneSource program and I am really pleased with it.

Please don’t forget that while you can file with your last LES or other final pay information, the law says that you are supposed to wait until you have your W-2 in hand.  I don’t know the reasoning behind this, but I do know that there are often changes to military pay information between the time the last LES is calculated in mid-December and the time that the LES comes out in the last half of January.  This is particularly true if you are moving in or out of a special pay situation such as being in a combat zone, being “at sea,” receiving Family Separation Allowance, etc.  If you file with your last pay information and then your W-2 is different, you’ll have to file an amended return, and that is no fun.  You’ll also have to file an amended return if you receive more tax documents, such as interest statements on bank accounts, after you have filed.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Navy Wife

    Can you explain what the Travel/Misc W-2 is for? My husband had alot of TDY assignments in 2010 where he received per diem & I only included his normal W-2 for our taxes. Should he have gotten the other W-2 as well & if so, how do I go about getting a copy, so I can file an addendum to our taxes?

    • Navy Wife

      I didn’t realize there was more than 1 W-2 and he also had alot of tax free pay during that time because of his TDY assignments. Now, I’m scared that I filed our taxes incorrectly.

      • KateKashman

        Navy Wife – don’t panic… most likely everything is fine. Travel/Misc W-2s are most often used for Personally Procured Moves (PPM), formerly known as Do It Yourself (DITY) moves. TDY assignments and tax free pay should not cause you to have a Travel/Misc W-2. There is also a 1099-INT that is used to report interest earned on Savings Deposit Plan accounts if he had a SDP while he was in a combat zone.

        However, I am a little curious how you filed your taxes without the regular W-2s, and without receiving bank tax statements and such? I always advise people to wait, not just because the law says you aren’t supposed to file without a W-2, but also because I hate to get surprised when that random tax info shows up later than I expected. Filing an amended 1040 isn’t hard, but it seems like a pain when I just could have waited a week or two.

    • KateKashman

      Travel/Misc W-2s are most often used for Personally Procured Moves (PPM), previously known as Do It Yourself Moves (DITY) moves. I’m sure there are other things that cause a Travel/Misc W-2 to be issued, but I have never seen it happen so I can’t speculate what those things might be.

      Travel/Misc W-2s are available via the MyPay system just like regular W-2s. There is a separate selection on the main menu for Travel/Misc W-2. They are not scheduled to be available until 31 January. As you can imagine, it is a lot of work getting all those end of December moves through the system before the end of January, particularly if the service members don’t file their claim in a timely manner.

      More than likely, your husband’s TDY assignments will not have an impact on your taxes. It certainly doesn’t hurt to check, though. I am always trying to stay on the right side of the IRS :)

  • Navy Wife

    I used all the regular tax paperwork when I filed the taxes because it was the 2010 tax year when all of this occurred . I printed out his W-2, got all bank,mortgage, ect information when I filed. I just hadn’t printed out a travel/misc w-2 because I didn’t even know that was a W-2. Since you had mentioned it in your article, it made me worried that I hadn’t done something right for our 2010 taxes.

    I haven’t even begun to think about 2011 taxes yet. I’m still waiting on every piece of paperwork needed in order to file. I usually get everything & stare at it until around March before I start thinking about filing.

  • Lisa

    When filing taxes and my husband was tax free from july 2010 to Dec 2010 what do i do?