File taxes, help a soldier

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ANNVILLE Individuals filing their 2021 Pennsylvania personal income taxes can help Pennsylvania’s military personnel and their families by donating any amount of their refund to the state’s Military Family Relief Assistance Program.

The program, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, provides grants of up to $3,500 to members of the armed forces and their families, who are residents of Pennsylvania and have a direct and immediate financial need due to circumstances beyond their control. The tax form includes instructions on how to donate. 

“Pennsylvanians have a long history of supporting the military and their families by generously donating some or all of their tax return to the Military Family Relief Assistance Program. These donations provide critical assistance to those who need it most,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the DMVA. “Unforeseen circumstances, now magnified by the increased tempo of the military, often result in financial need. Any donation is greatly appreciated to support our servicemembers and their families, who selflessly serve and sacrifice for our commonwealth and country.”

Examples of how MFRAP grants helped servicemembers in 2021-2022 include:

  • An Army Reservist recently returning from deployment experienced unexpected Covid-19 quarantine extensions. Because of the extensions, as well as newly imposed travel restrictions, his offer for an overseas contract position was rescinded. He applied for unemployment and was found to be ineligible. The Reservist requested assistance with mortgage and car loans while he continued his job search. A grant was approved for $3,500. 
  • The spouse of a Pennsylvania Army National Guardsman deployed to Southwest Asia was laid off. She was unable to find new employment with the shifts and hours needed to continue providing care for two children while her husband was deployed. Several unexpected problems, including automobile and HVAC repairs, caused additional financial strain. The family received a grant of $3,500.
  • The spouse of a Pennsylvania Army National Guardsman deployed to Southwest Asia was facing a financial crisis when the family’s heat pump unexpectedly failed during the height of winter. Due to the loss of approximately 1/3 of the family’s household income during deployment, they were not able to pay for the unexpected repairs. A grant for $3,500 was approved to assist with the repairs. 

Since the MFRAP program began in 2006, more than $1.98 million has been generously donated by individuals filing their Pennsylvania personal income tax returns and through private donations.

Members of the armed forces who are residents of Pennsylvania are eligible to apply for assistance while they are serving on active duty for 30 or more consecutive days with the Army, Army Reserve, Navy, Navy Reserve, Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps, Marine Corps Reserve, Coast Guard, Coast Guard Reserve, or the Pennsylvania Army or Air National Guard.
All members of the armed forces who were discharged for medical reasons are also eligible to apply for assistance for up to four years after a medical discharge.
Reserve component servicemembers (including Pennsylvania National Guard members) and their families may be eligible for a grant for a period of up to three years after release from a qualifying active-duty tour.
The program also applies to certain family members of eligible servicemembers. Applicants must show that they have a direct and immediate financial need as a result of circumstances beyond their control.
In addition to the check-off box on the state Personal Income Tax form, contributions can be made directly by sending a check to the Military Family Relief Assistance Program, c/o PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Bldg. 0-47 Fort Indiantown Gap, Annville, PA 17003.
Donations are tax deductible to the extent authorized by federal law. To learn more about this program, visit www.mfrap.pa.gov.