Uniform costs

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by brmelissa, Sep 11, 2019.

  1. brmelissa

    brmelissa New Member

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    Hi! My son is a qualified candidate & we are praying he gets accepted. We are wondering about estimated uniform costs. I understand that the total cost can be deducted from their account on a monthly basis. What is the average cost? Does every cadet get the same number of uniforms? Are the uniforms the only expense besides personal items such as toiletries?
     
  2. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

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    I knew USNA has a Midshipman Budget Book, so a quick google produced the link below as a place to start:

    https://www.usafa.edu/parents/cadet-financial-information/
     
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  3. brmelissa

    brmelissa New Member

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    Thank you so much.
     
  4. NervousMother

    NervousMother Member

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    I would never have even thought to google this! Super helpful.
     
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  5. Heatherg21

    Heatherg21 Member

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    thank you for that link. A good read and things I hadn't considered. If our DS gets in, I will no longer be able to claim him for tax deduction, hadn't thought that one through yet, $$$$. But, he would be in so I am okay with that. Just did quick google search and am now reading USNA budget book. Thanks!
     
  6. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

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    Don’t assume that based on a simple reading of the budget book. There are nuances. Either dig deeper into the tax code or consult a tax professional. Doesn’t hurt to be sure.
     
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  7. USAFA2023mom

    USAFA2023mom New Member

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    There are several things that come out of their paycheck. Our DS (USAFA 2023) has more USAFA issued clothing than many peoples do in their closets at home! That being said, it is all deducted from his paycheck in addition to laundry services, barber services, issued laptop, football game tickets, and the list goes on. He received an advance on his July paycheck to purchase his textbooks and school supplies for the academic year. Regardless of all the deductions, he has everything he needs to thrive at USAFA and should not need to dip into any of his prior savings to obtain needed materials. (We did purchase some items for him to take to I-day back in June- the most expensive being the optional pair of boots- highly recommended so they can be broken in.) We are so impressed with USAFA and how they care for and treat the cadets. Where else can you get a world-class education in a safe environment surrounded by amazing peers AND get paid to do so?
     
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  8. 7258FFAWPOA

    7258FFAWPOA Member

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    Look through threads here - you will see varying opinions about whether or not you can claim a cadet on your taxes. The academies will tell you not to. Their caveat is, "However, it is informative only and should not be considered as necessarily reflecting the official position of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)." I think they are taking a conservative approach that does not take into account the precise verbiage of the tax code. I plan on claiming mine every year they are there (except the last). If you need more info check with a tax professional. Here is the verbiage from IRS Pub 17,
    Tests To Be a Qualifying Child
    1) The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them.
    2) The child must be (a) under age 19 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly), (b) under age 24 at the end of the year, a student, and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly), or (c) any age if permanently and totally disabled.
    3) The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year.
    4) The child must not have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year.
    5) The child must not be filing a joint return for the year (unless that return is filed only to get a refund of income tax withheld or estimated tax paid).
    If the child meets the rules to be a qualifying child of more than one person, only one person can actually treat the child as a qualifying child. See Qualifying Child of More Than One Person , later, to find out which person is the person entitled to claim the child as a qualifying child.
    #2 In IRS Pub 17 a Student is defined as, "To qualify as a student, your child must be, during some part of each of any 5 calendar months of the year: A full-time student at a school that has a regular teaching staff, course of study, and a regularly enrolled student body at the school." Cadets graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree - I do not think there is any argument that cadets are also qualified students in addition to being cadets by this IRS definition of student.

    The biggest points of contention seem to be #3 and 4.

    Below is the verbiage from the footnote for #3 IRS Pub 17
    There are exceptions for temporary absences, children who were born or died during the year, children of divorced or separated parents (or parents who live apart), and kidnapped children.

    And here is how the IRS defines temporary absences.
    "Your child is considered to have lived with you during periods of time when one of you, or both, are temporarily absent due to special circumstances such as:
    Illness, Education, Business, Vacation, Military service, or Detention in a juvenile facility." Here I believe the authorized temporary absence is both education and military service.

    About #4. The issue is whether or not the child provides more than half of their own support for the year. Cadets do not pay for food, lodging, utilities, tuition, facility use, on-base transportation, medical, etc out of the pay they receive from the Air Force. I believe their earned income, the pay they receive, is the support provided by them - and that this is the value that is required in Worksheet 3-1. Worksheet 3-1 does mention nontaxable income but I do not believe that support provided by USAFA counts as nontaxable income (this could be the critical piece of info that I can't find a reference for). I could not find anything in IRS Pub 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income. The military provides a lot of support that never makes it way onto a tax return; however, I could not find anything in IRS Pub 3 either. I know the support provided by the Air Force to cadets does not count as taxable income or it would be included in box 1 on the W-2. Additionally, IRS Pub 970 states, "Payment to Service Academy Cadets - An appointment to a United States military academy isn't a scholarship or fellowship grant. Payment you receive as a cadet or midshipman at an armed services academy is pay for personal services and will be reported to you on Form W-2, box 1. Include this pay in your income in the year you receive it." It does not address support provided by the service here either.

    IRS Pub 17 does not say that the support for the qualifying child test must be provided by the parent like it does for the qualifying relative test that states, "You must provide more than half of the person's total support for the year." I think this is the critical point that the service academies are too conservative in grouping the calculated support provided by the Air Force as unearned income the earned income provided by the cadet.

    The verbiage provided by USAFA, "Once you become a cadet at the Academy, you are considered a member of the active military, and are no longer dependent upon your parents for support. You are considered supported by the Air Force or by yourself." may not be completely accurate - I would say they are supported by 3 parties - family, Air Force, and themselves. The IRS has clearly spelled out that "Military service" is an acceptable temporary absence for a dependent who is a qualifying child. Additionally, the IRS verbiage states that the child must not have provided more than half of their own support for the year - not that the Air Force or other Federal entity provides more than half of their support for the year. This is my interpretation for what I plan to do right now. I would sincerely welcome any fact based referenced discussions that support or dispute my understanding of the IRS rules. This is a recurring thread and it would be nice to get it resolved once and for all.
     
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  9. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator 10-Year Member Founding Member

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    Here is where you might lose the argument that the absence is “temporary”.

    When my son got on the plane to COS on June 25, 2007, it was the last time he lived with us. That is not temporary and I think you would have a problem arguing that it is.

    Also, even counting only cadet pay as their contribution to their support, it is more than 50%. (Discounting all USAFA provided support). I know that we never provided more than the $1100/mo that was their pay.

    I guess everyone can discuss back and forth, but for us - we never claimed him when he was a cadet. It’s really not worth the hassle on our tax return, and then he was allowed to claim himself and get all federal and state withholding refunded.

    Stealth_81
     
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  10. 7258FFAWPOA

    7258FFAWPOA Member

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    Stealth_81,
    My main point was that it is not I that must provide over half of the support for a qualifying child (or even provide more support to them than they do themselves), it is that they do not provide over half of their own support - including mine and USAFA's. As a side note - one is allowed to include a percentage (33 1/3% in our case) of the fair rental value, utilities, repairs etc for the family home as support. The crux is whether or not Air Force support is considered non-taxable income for IRS Pub 17 worksheet 3-1.
     
  11. OldRetSWO

    OldRetSWO USNA 78/parent 11/BGO for >25yrs 5-Year Member

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    WOW! I think that when my son as at USNA, he was home maybe 45 or 50 days MAX and we lived only 4 hours from USNA so he was able to get to us. TO be able to say that I provided over half of his support, I'd have to figure that I provided more in food shelter, utilities, medical care, etc in the 45 days he spent with us than the 320 days that the Navy had him. Now I do think that we set a good table with lots of wholesome (and expensive ?) food but enough to outweigh the seven eighths of the year that he was in the arms of the Navy? I guess I needed to serve more caviar. . . the really expensive kind.

    By the way, I was kind of joking about the medical as when I was a mid and on into the Navy, we were supposed to see private docs without seeing the Navy medical system first or at least as well so even IF I sent him to our doctors, the Navy would have incurred added medical expense from it.
     
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  12. justdoit19

    justdoit19 Member

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    Also not worth the potential audit risk, IMO. Plus I don’t (nor my tax guy) agree it’s allowed beyond their HS graduation/first semester year. I also feel like just as a PRINCIPAL, that those kids are all independent now. And they deserve all the benefits that entails. Especially with what they sacrifice to do what they are doing.

    To each their own! Seek your own advice for decisions.
     
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  13. OldRetSWO

    OldRetSWO USNA 78/parent 11/BGO for >25yrs 5-Year Member

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    I don't know you and I'm confident that you're an honorable person but I think this fits with what West Point calls "quibbling" and at USNA, we call "Sea Lawyering". You can bring in legal/IRS definitions until the cows come home but to me and, I think Most people would think that the over Seven Eighths of the Year that he lives and eats on the Air Force out weighs the one eighth that he spends with you. Now Plebe Year which is about half you and half USAFA could be a different story.

    I'm pretty aggressive with my deductions and have a very sharp pencil but my son went off my taxes when he went to USNA. My other kids stayed on while they were in college but I treated USNA differently for a number of reasons.
     
  14. ekb1398

    ekb1398 Member

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  15. CalvinBall

    CalvinBall Member

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    I’m going to google the budget book as well, didn’t even think ahead about taxes so this thread took me by surprise. Steep learning curve for us!
     
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  16. Dr. Strange Love

    Dr. Strange Love Member

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    .
    The rule is 6 months or more in any year where the student is dependent on the parents.

    1. I don’t believe a 4C would qualify because late June start of Plebe summer qualifies as only 5 months under the parents roof.

    2. NAPS starts middle July, so I believe the 6 month report rule applies here.

    3. 3C, 2C and 1C does not qualify.

    The rule is Binary simple I believe.
    .
     
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  17. peppypea

    peppypea Member

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    Once any of mine turned 18, I couldn't claim them on my taxes anymore anyway. So irritating- I can assure you I have coughed up PLENTY
     
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  18. justdoit19

    justdoit19 Member

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    I think there should be a travel deduction. Dollar for dollar. Most expensive free education everrrrr
     
  19. Tx2AFA

    Tx2AFA USAFA '23

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    @brmelissa Can't wear anything but uniform as a freshman anyway. We get issued more than enough of everything and don't use a lot of items except for on special occasion but are still required to both purchase and have all issued items. Between the uniforms and the laptop that will eat up a good portion of cadet pay. Last month I got $0.96 in pay and next month should be around the same but I got $1200 of advance pay to help pay for textbooks and other expenses the month before. Bottom line, as a freshman and sophomore most paychecks will get taken up by loan repayment for issued items.
     
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  20. brmelissa

    brmelissa New Member

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    @Tx2AFA Thank you so much for that information. How many different uniforms do y’all have?