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A salute, shout out and checklist for U.S. veterans

Across America, special thanks go out this Veterans Day to all the men and women who courageously put on uniforms and served our country whenever and wherever called.

Changing suits_from military service to civilian life_Monster Veterans Talent Index Nov2014

But once those proudly-worn uniforms are packed away, former U.S. military members need more than just gratitude.

Millions of soldiers, sailors, pilots and National Guard members need our support and help as they return to civilian life.

That's why this 11/11 Shout Out Saturday goes to MartketWatch's financial checklist for former military members.

And since you come here for tax talk, I don't want to disappoint. Here are a couple of tax matters for veterans to consider.

Tax-free veteran benefits: Former service members can exclude certain benefits paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Internal Revenue Service Publication 17 cites the following 10 tax-free VA benefits:

  1. Education, training, and subsistence allowances;  
  2. Disability compensation and pension payments for disabilities paid either to veterans or their families;  
  3. Grants for homes designed for wheelchair living;
  4. Grants for motor vehicles for veterans who lost their sight or the use of their limbs;  
  5. Veterans' insurance proceeds and dividends paid either to veterans or their beneficiaries, including the proceeds of a veteran's endowment policy paid before death;   
  6. Interest on insurance dividends left on deposit with the VA;
  7. Benefits under a dependent-care assistance program;    
  8. The death gratuity paid to a survivor of a member of the Armed Forces who died after Sept. 10, 2001;
  9. Payments made under the compensated work therapy program; and
  10. Any bonus payment by a state or political subdivision because of service in a combat zone.

Tax help for employers and veteran workers: There's also the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), which helps both employers and veterans.

The WOTC is part of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act that became law in December 2015. It encourages the hiring of certain employees, including veterans, by providing eligible employers a tax break for adding these men and women to their private sector payrolls.

It's in effect for qualifying businesses and veterans looking for post-military work through 2019.

Thanks every day: If you're a veteran, make sure you take advantage of all the help, tax and otherwise, you can get. If you're an employer, look to add these already trained men and women to your companies' staff.

Bronte War Memorial Korea Ben Bell

And all of us, with or without any direct personal connection to the armed forces (and yes, that's my dad's name on his hometown's memorial to veterans), be sure to thank a veteran for his or her service. Today and every day.

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