More Military Money Matters

Rosemary Freitas Williams, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy

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An old adage says that certain topics are forbidden in polite company; one is money.  Yet, here I am ready to bring the subject up – again.  You work hard for what you have, and I want to be sure we’ve provided you with the tools you need to protect your cash.  We’ve discussed where to find help, ways to manage and invest your money, and protections that benefit you. Today, I’ve got more news you can use — here are the top four:

  1. Per diem rates for long-term temporary duty have changed.   If you’re assigned for more than 30 days, the changes below apply to you:
  • For long-term TDY of 31 to 180 days, the authorized flat rate is 75 percent of the locality rate (lodging plus meals and incidental expenses) for each full day of TDY at that location.
  • For long-term TDY greater than 180 days, the authorized flat rate is 55 percent of the locality rate for each full day of TDY at that location.
  • On the travel day to the TDY location, travelers receive up to 100 percent lodging per diem at the locality rate and 75 percent meals and incidental expenses.

This change means that it’s up to you to research your assignment ahead of time.

  • Take time to seek out cost-effective lodging and dining and make sure you understand the percentage and locality rate.
  • Look into short-term furnished apartments or ask if a hotel offers an “extended stay” rate.
  • If you can’t find suitable lodging within the reduced rate, you can contact your Commercial Travel Office for assistance.  More information is available on the Defense Travel website, including frequently asked questions. This will help you manage your expenses and avoid unnecessary out-of-pocket costs.
  1. Save your receipts.  As you travel, you also face other expenses and may be reimbursed for many of them. Keeping everything together helps to ensure that you will get back what you are due. When it’s time to file those expense reports, pay close attention to what is covered by the incidental expense portion of per diem. Regulations have recently changed. Some items previously considered miscellaneous expenses are now incidental expenses. Expenses once considered travel-related, now may be mission-related and reimbursed outside the travel system. Don’t worry, you can get the scoop on all of the changes here.
  1. Prepare for tax filing now.  As January comes to a close, you will need another very important document — your W-2. Starting today you can access your W-2 via myPay.
  2. Let your money serve you. Trust me, April 15th is right around the corner.  You can simplify your life by using the no-cost tax filing and preparation service offered through Military OneSource.  This year we’ve added the ability to accommodate tax situations regarding rental property, charitable deductions, and mortgage interest.  Tax filing doesn’t need to be difficult and you can relax knowing your taxes will be backed with a 100 percent accuracy guarantee.

Be informed and tap into the resources through Military OneSource.   There is help every step of the way.  Financial counselors are ready to help you decide how to best use your tax refund and reach your financial goals.  Put these no-cost resources to work for you.

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More Military Money Matters