Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) enacted in December 2017, members of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Coast Guard who performed services in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt can now claim combat zone tax benefits. As such, eligible service members may be able to exclude part or all of their combat pay from their income for federal income tax purposes. Excluding combat pay from a taxpayer’s income can result in a lower tax bill. These combat zone tax benefits are retroactive to June 2015.
How Armed Services members can claim a refund
Service members who previously paid tax on this income may be owed a refund. They may file an amended tax return, Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Returnif they already filed a tax return for tax years 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Combat pay received on or after January 1, 2018, will be correctly reported on any W-2 forms issued to any service member who serves in the Sinai Peninsula. Service members who served in the Sinai Peninsula in 2015, 2016, or 2017 can provide documentation of their service to their finance officer and ask for a Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement.
However, an eligible service member who is unable to secure a corrected Form W-2c may still claim the combat pay exclusion by attaching to their Form 1040X copies of official documents showing they served or worked in the Sinai Peninsula. These documents should indicate the area, theater or military operation and the approximate entry date.
Acceptable documents include military orders, letters of authorization (civilians), hospital discharge papers, discharge from active duty, official letterhead memorandum from a military department or civilian employer, or a request and authorization for temporary duty travel of Department of Defense personnel (civilians and military).
Electronic filing is not available and amended returns can only be filed on paper. Amended returns may take up to 16 weeks to process; however, within approximately three weeks after mailing an amended return, taxpayers can track the status online using the IRS “Where’s My Amended Return?” feature.
Please contact our office if you would like more information about requesting a refund based on combat service in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.