Military View:

Deducting Moving Expenses for Members of the Armed Forces

To deduct moving expenses on your tax return most people have to meet certain guidelines. The same is not true for an enlisted member of the armed forces. If they move because of a permanent change of station then the regular guidelines don’t apply. A permanent change of station means you move from your home to your first post of active duty or from one post of active duty to another or you move back to your home within one year of ending your active duty unless a different period has been specified under the Joint Travel Regulations. The expenses incurred for moving your spouse and dependents is also included plus if you are imprisoned or missing in action or die, and your family is moved back to your home or your spouses’ home or your dependent’s home. These expenses are deductible regardless of the time it takes or the distance traveled.

You will also receive reimbursements or allowances from the government for your moving expenses. If these exceed the cost of moving your family to a new location, then they must be included on your W-2. If the excess is not reported on your W-2 then you must include it in your gross income on line 7 of your 1040. If your moving expenses exceed the government allowance for them then use form 3903 to deduct qualified items. Don’t include any reimbursements or allowances on this form that you receive from the government.

According to the IRS, the following expenses if not reimbursed can be deducted on form 3903:

  1. Moving household goods and personal effects, including expenses for hauling a trailer, packing, crating, in-transit storage, and insurance. Moving expenses for anything you buy for your new home is not deductible like furniture and other goods.
  2. Travel and lodging expenses from the old home to the new home, including automobile expenses (either actual expenses or 10 cents per mile) and airfare. You cannot deduct any expenses for meals. You cannot deduct the cost of unnecessary side trips or lavish and extravagant lodging.

If you are moving from the US to another country or moving from one foreign country to another, the cost of storage for any personal items or household items is also covered plus the cost of moving these items back and forth between your new main job location and the old job location. The only requirement is that the job location should be outside US.

On form 3903, add line 1 and 2. Don’t include any reimbursements or allowances you received from the government. Don’t include the cost of moving services provided to you by the government. This amount gets entered on line 3. On line 4 include the reimbursements and allowances you received for expenses you reported on line 1 and 2. Don’t include dislocation allowance, a temporary lodging allowance, a temporary lodging expense, or a move-in housing allowance plus the value of moving services the government provided.

To complete line 5 of this form, you have to take the amounts you gathered in line 3 and 4 and subtract them from each other. If line 3 is equal or less than line 4 then enter zero on line 5. You don’t have a deduction to report. Subtract line 3 from line 4 and if the result is more than zero then enter it on line 7 of form 1040. If line 3 is more than line 4, subtract line 4 from line 3 and enter the result on line 5 and line 26 of form 1040. If your dependents and Spouse is being moved from a different location then you, meaning multiple moves to one location treat all these moves as one.

If you are a survivor of a member of the armed forces that have passed away then any move you make within the six months following his/her death and from a former home outside the US to one within the US, is deductible.