How to Enter Nontaxable Combat Pay on an Income Tax Return

Army, Navy and Air Force members can all serve in combat zones.

Army, Navy and Air Force members can all serve in combat zones.

If you're in the military, you earn nontaxable combat pay by serving in a combat zone. The zone must be designated by the President as a place where U.S. troops are in combat. The President can also end the combat-zone designation. Nontaxable combat pay doesn't show up on your W-2. You don't have to report it on your tax return at all.


You receive nontaxable combat pay for any month that you serve in a combat zone. Your pay is excluded from tax even if you only serve part of the month there. If you're hospitalized for combat-zone injuries, that counts, too. Along with base pay, the exclusion covers hostile-fire pay, reenlistment bonuses for that month, and pay for accrued leave. If your W-2 reports your combat pay, it's a mistake. Contact your finance office to get a corrected W-2.

About the Author

A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.

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