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Scotty Allison: Tax time is tax tips time

BEMIDJI -- Well, tax season is once again upon us.

For veterans and family members out there, remember that compensation and pension benefits are considered non-taxable income. As such, the Veterans Administration does not send out Form 1099-MISCs.

If you are 100 percent service-connected and this is permanent and total, here are some benefits you and your family may qualify for:

•1. Medical benefits through the Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA) for your spouse and children (dependent on their age or if they are disabled).

•2. Dental care for the veteran.

•3. Educational benefits (Chapter 35) for your spouse and children.

•4. Life Insurance for the veteran with the possibility of waiver of premiums for the first $10,000.

•5. Minnesota homestead property tax exemption of up to $300,000.

•6. Military ID card for veteran, spouse and qualifying children. This allows access to Commissary and Military Exchanges.

•7. Permanent Angling License for the veteran.

•8. Free Deer or Small Game license annually for the veteran.

•9. Free access to both national and state parks.

Recently, we have had several cases where family members were not enrolled in CHAMPVA even though they were entitled to the program.

Above are just a few of the entitlements for a 100 percent service connected veteran. If you are service-connected at the 30 percent rate or higher, please remember to add your spouse and dependents to your benefit as this will result in an increase in compensation received. You can do this by going to the local office and filing the proper documents.

The U.S. Army will be closing all retirees’ and family members’ Army Knowledge Accounts (AKO) accounts between Jan. 31 and March 31. This means if you were using this email service, it will no longer be available. If you happen to be using an AKO email address in your myPay account, you must change it to a commercial email address if you want to receive updates from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. All emails stored in AKO will be gone after Jan. 31.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently had a glitch with their eBenefits website. As a result of a software problem that was limited in duration, some people accessing the website were able to see a combination of their own information as well as data from other eBenefits users. VA immediately took action and shut the eBenefits system down. VA believes only a relatively limited number of veterans were affected. VA continues to investigate this issue.

Don’t forget, if you have any questions regarding veteran benefits, please call the County Veterans Service Office at (218) 333-4177/4178.

SCOTTY ALLISON is the Beltrami County Veterans Service Officer.