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Memorial Day 2012: Acknowledging all the costs paid by our troops

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, was established just after the Civil War as a way to remember the soldiers who died in that tragic campaign.

Now on the fourth Monday of every May we recognize the sacrifices of all U.S. servicemen and women in all battles.

Sailor paying Memorial Day respects_DVIDSHUB via Flickr CC Photo by DVIDSHUB via Flickr Creative Commons

In addition to commemorating those who made the ultimate sacrifice, also keep in your thoughts the many service men and women who are serving today in combat zones.

Taxes and the troops: Military personal do get some special tax considerations.

Military.com's list of the top 10 tax tips for troops includes the combat zone income exclusion, retirement contributions deductions, home sale considerations, moving expenses and educational expenses.

One tax tip that didn't make this list also is a distressing commentary on how we ignore the literally life-saving needs of our soldiers and sailors.

Military.com notes that body armor expenses are in some cases tax deductible:

If you purchased body armor [or other personally procured protection equipment] for combat duty, the entire cost (including shipping) is tax deductible. You or your spouse must have purchased it; if other friends or relatives purchased it, there's no deduction.

To deduct the armor, you must itemize your deductions. The deduction goes as an itemized deduction on Schedule A, which attaches to your Federal Form 1040. Only the amount of the cost which is more than 2 percent of your Adjusted Gross Income (in most cases, this is yours "and, if married, your spouses" combined salaries and wages).

For example, suppose you spend $2,000 for body armor, and you are single with service wages of $30,000. Your deduction is $2,000 minus $600 (or 2 percent of $30,000) or $1,400.

Besides body armor, anything else you purchase which helps you perform your service job better is tax deductible. This includes any equipment, or articles of clothing which would not be suitable for general civilian wear.

How sad that Uncle Sam can't supply every member of our armed forces with all the equipment they need to more safely do their jobs. It sure seems to be a more than ordinary and necessary expense.

How about a little less "patriotic" lip service to supporting the troops and a lot more help for these men and women, both while they're putting their lives on the line, and once they return to civilian life.

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Mike M.

It is good you pointed out that Body armor is deductible. The troops deserve every deduction they are entitled to. -Mike M. www.murraycavanaugh.com

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