By Kersten HayesJanuary 31, 2019
FORT SILL, Okla., Jan. 31, 2019 -- President Donald Trump has signed the Veterans Benefits and Transitions Act of 2018 (VBTA), which includes significant changes to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
The VBTA permits spouses of service members to adopt the legal residence of the service member to file taxes and vote in that jurisdiction, even if the spouse has never lived in that state.
The VBTA also expands the types of contracts that service members may terminate to include TV provider and internet service contracts.
The military spouse can now elect to use the same legal residence as the service member for tax purposes. The spouse does not have to physically live in the state and meet any other state residency requirements to do so.
Military spouses can take advantage of this immediately, and make this election for their state and local 2018 tax returns filed in the current income tax filing season.
Be aware though that the VBTA does not change the residency requirement for certifications and professional licenses from a state agency.
The VBTA also allows the military spouse to elect to use the same legal residence of the service member for voting purposes.
This amendment becomes effective March 31. At that time, spouses can contact the proper local agency and register to vote in the new jurisdiction.
In addition to cell phone contracts, the VBTA now allows service members to terminate TV provider and internet access contracts. TV providers includes cable and satellite services, such as DIRECTV and Fidelity, but not online-only streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu.
To terminate, the service member must be relocating for at least 90 days to an area that does not support the contract.
For more information about the new law or how this might affect you, call the Fort Sill Legal Assistance Office at 580-442-5058/5059, or check out their website. Operating hours at legal assistance are: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursdays from 1-4 p.m. The legal office is located on the fourth floor of the Welcome Center, Bldg. 4700 Mow-Way Road.