Are Moving Expenses for Military Personnel Tax Deductible?

Updated on January 5, 2024

At a Glance

  • Moving expenses for military personnel can be tax deductible.
  • Active-duty members of the Armed Forces may deduct unreimbursed moving expenses.
  • Expenses include the cost of moving household goods, personal effects, and travel costs.
  • These deductions can be claimed without itemizing.

Active-duty military personnel often face the challenge of relocating for their service. Understanding the tax implications of these moves is important. While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 eliminated the moving expenses deduction for most taxpayers through 2025, an exception exists for active-duty members of the Armed Forces. This article will examine the tax deductibility of moving expenses for military personnel and offer guidance on how to claim this deduction.

Special Consideration for Military Moves

For active-duty military personnel who move because of a permanent change of station (PCS), the IRS allows the deduction of unreimbursed moving expenses. This includes moves from your home to your first post of active duty, moves from one permanent post of duty to another, and moves from your last post of duty to your home or to a nearer point within one year of ending active service.

What Moving Expenses Qualify?

Deductible moving expenses for active-duty military personnel may include:

  • The cost of moving household goods and personal effects
  • Travel costs for relocating, including lodging expenses during the move (excluding meals)

For a comprehensive list of what can be included in this deduction, refer to IRS Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide.

Claiming Deductions Without Itemizing

One of the benefits for qualifying military personnel is that you can claim these moving expenses without having to itemize deductions. These expenses are considered an “above-the-line” deduction, subtracted directly from your adjusted gross income (AGI).

How to Claim Military Moving Expense Deductions

To claim moving expenses, active-duty service members should:

  • Complete Form 3903, Moving Expenses, and include it with their federal income tax return.
  • Maintain detailed records and retain receipts of all moving expenses. This documentation is crucial to support the deductions claimed, should the IRS request more information.

Exceptions and Exclusions

The ability to deduct these costs is subject to several conditions:

  • You cannot claim any expenses that have been reimbursed by the government.
  • If the move is not related to a PCS, such as a move after retirement or discharge, the expenses are not deductible.

Final Thoughts

Active-duty military personnel are uniquely positioned to deduct moving expenses in connection with their service. By understanding and properly applying the guidelines set by the IRS, service members can reduce their taxable income and thus their tax liability.

Keeping abreast of military-specific tax benefits is important, and using resources like the IRS’s Tax Information for Members of the U.S. Armed Forces can help navigate those benefits. Always consult with a tax professional who specializes in military tax matters to ensure maximum tax efficiency during your moves.

While moving can be a complex and often disruptive event, especially for service members, the available tax deductions can help ease the financial burden and offer a bit of relief during transitions. Stay informed about your rights and the support available to you to make the most of your service benefits.

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are moving expenses tax deductible for military personnel?

Yes, moving expenses for military personnel can be tax deductible. Active-duty members of the Armed Forces may deduct unreimbursed moving expenses.

Who qualifies for the deduction of moving expenses?

Active-duty military personnel who move because of a permanent change of station (PCS) qualify for the deduction of moving expenses.

What expenses can be deducted?

Deductible moving expenses for military personnel may include the cost of moving household goods and personal effects, as well as travel costs for relocating.

Do I need to itemize deductions to claim this deduction?

No, military personnel can claim moving expenses without having to itemize deductions. These expenses are considered an “above-the-line” deduction.

How do I claim military moving expense deductions?

To claim moving expenses, active-duty service members should complete Form 3903, Moving Expenses, and include it with their federal income tax return.

What records should I maintain for the deduction?

It is important to maintain detailed records and retain receipts of all moving expenses to support the deductions claimed, if requested by the IRS.

Can I claim expenses that have been reimbursed by the government?

No, you cannot claim any expenses that have been reimbursed by the government.

No, expenses are only deductible if the move is related to a permanent change of station (PCS). Moves after retirement or discharge are not eligible for the deduction.

How can military-specific tax benefits be navigated?

Using resources like the IRS’s Tax Information for Members of the U.S. Armed Forces can help navigate military-specific tax benefits. It is also advisable to consult with a tax professional specializing in military tax matters.

How can moving expenses help reduce taxable income?

By deducting moving expenses, active-duty military personnel can reduce their taxable income, resulting in a lower tax liability.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.