Moving Expenses That Can Help Military Members Lower Their Taxes

Jon Fesmire |

With tax season quickly approaching it makes sense to learn what deductions you’re allowed to take, and if you moved last year, you may wonder if you can deduct any related expenses.

For most of us, we can’t, unless we’re active members of the military. But for those of you that are, let's go over what moving expenses can help you on your taxes this year.

The law covering this is The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This is in effect from 2018 to 2025 and will then expire unless Congress extends it or makes it permanent.

I’m in the military. How do I know if I qualify?

The IRS has a quiz for you on their website. Head to their  Can I Deduct My Moving Expenses? Page. The estimated completion time is just nine minutes.

We encourage you to take the quiz, but before you do, keep in mind that you must fit into one of these categories:

  • You are active-duty military and the move was for a change of station.

  • You are the dependent or spouse of an active-duty military member whose move was for a change of station.

  • You are the dependent or spouse of a military member who passed away, was imprisoned, or deserted.

What can I deduct?

If you qualify, here’s a list of things you can claim as deductions.

  • Travel expenses for you and your family members

  • Moving services

  • Moving supplies

  • Fees for turning off utilities at your previous home

  • Shipping your vehicle to your new home

  • Hotels, Motels, and other temporary lodging while you travel to your new home

  • Up to 30 days of storage for your belongings until they are delivered to your new home

  • Parking fees

What am I not allowed to deduct?

Moving expenses that are not covered include:

  • Government-provided moving services

  • Trips that you made prior to your move, including job interviews, onboarding, or your housing search

  • Food, meals, and snacks consumed while traveling

  • Expenses for side trips or entertainment while traveling

  • Rent paid for your new home

  • Costs of purchasing your new home.

  • Remodeling your new home

  • Temporary lodging at the new location while you are waiting to move into your new home

  • Costs incurred for traveling back to your old home once you’ve moved

Are there other requirements?

Another important factor is distance. Your new job must be a minimum of 50 miles farther from your former home than your old deployment was. Let’s break that down. If your previous deployment was 10 miles from your old home and your new one is 60 miles or farther from there, then it makes more sense for you to move closer and you can make the deductions.

You also will need to be actively working at your new location within 12 months of moving and working for 39 weeks or more over the following year.

The exception is for active-duty military members who moved to a new duty station or who moved to a retirement station. They don’t have to meet the time and distance guidelines.

We hope this helps you get more back on your taxes this year. If you haven’t moved but plan to move soon for a new deployment, consider renting a self storage unit, which can make moving easier. We have listings across the U.S. and Canada so you can find the right facility for your needs.