Military Spouses Relief Act

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The federal Military Spouses Residency Relief Act allows a military servicemember's spouse to keep a tax domicile throughout the marriage, even if the spouse moves into another state, so long as the spouse moves into the state to be with a servicemember who is in the state because of military orders.

The effective date is taxable years that begin on and after January 1, 2009.

If you are a servicemember's spouse, you may be exempt from Iowa income tax on your wages if:

  • your spouse is a member of the armed forces present in a state other than their home state
    in compliance with military orders;
  • you are present in a state other than your home state solely to be with your spouse;
  • you maintain your domicile in your home state, and
  • military orders must station the member of the armed forces in the state of Iowa. 

This law effectively allows wages (but not other income, such as interest) to be sourced to a state other than the state in which the wages are earned.

This exemption from state income tax is broader than the exemption for servicemembers themselves. Military servicemembers are also entitled to keep their residence under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act for purposes of determining which state may tax their military pay; however, servicemembers may owe tax in the state where they are stationed if they have non-military compensation or other income from sources within that state.

So while a state where a military servicemember is stationed may still continue to tax non-military compensation earned by a servicemember in the state, it will not be able to tax the compensation earned by the nonmilitary spouse if that spouse claims another state as their tax residence.

Iowa W-4

The IA W-4 includes information related to this federal law. If you claim this exemption, check the appropriate box on the IA W-4, enter the state other than Iowa you are claiming as your state of domicile, and attach a copy of your spousal military identification card to the IA W-4 provided to your employer.

Filing Iowa Income Tax Returns

Spouses who qualify to claim this exemption on their Iowa Income Tax Return should report all-source income on the IA 1040, but show no Iowa wages on line 1 of the IA 126. Enter the amount of credit from line 33, IA 126, on line 48, IA 1040.

Iowa income tax withheld should be entered on line 65 of the IA 1040; then complete the remainder of the IA 1040 to determine the amount of any refund that may be due.