Tagged: business

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NCOs without joes: What it's like to serve in the Army's new adviser …

But in 2017, for the first time, the service announced that it would stand up an all-volunteer brigade[1] for noncommissioned officers and post-command officers to spend two or three years training and deploying[2] for that mission only.

The Army offered a handful of cash and administrative incentives, but for many, the chance to share and sharpen their skills — and deploy — was motivation enough.

“My personal interest and loves are culture and language,” Capt. Christopher Hawkins, the executive officer of C Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, told Army Times on Jan. 18. “The way this was pitched is, this is a way to marry that tactical experience with language and culture, to a bigger extent than you would in a typical deployment.”

The plan resembled a handful of forebears, like the Security Force Advisory and Assistance Teams and the Military Transition Teams of earlier years, temporary solutions that gave many soldiers a taste of combat advising as a job.

“This is the type of mission that I do believe in, I’ve enjoyed it in the past,” said C Company commander Maj. Jason Moncuse. “And you can actually see changes, and that’s what I like about it.”

And a solid organizational structure means that his higher-ups are invested in the work that he’s doing, because it’s their main objective as well.

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“The way it was before, you were just kind of an isolated team. What I like about this concept is, now you have higher echelons to report to,” Moncuse added. “In the past, you would just go out, you would do your thing, you would send a report — you didn’t really have interaction with higher, you didn’t have that support network to reach out to.”

The hope is SFABs[4] will give the Army a chance to make a lasting impact on developing militaries while conserving its readiness for its own brigade combat teams, who have been sending their headquarters elements downrange for the advising mission while the rest of the formation kicked around back home.

“The struggle then was maintaining continuity,” B Company, 3rd Battalion commander Capt. Justin Shaw said of his previous combat deployment. “We’d go out once a week, maybe very two weeks. So it was hard to establish that rapport from persistent advising.”

Others wanted to come back and finish what they’d started all those years ago in Afghanistan and Iraq, a time punctuated by pain and loss.

“It wasn’t all for nothing,” said Capt. Daniel Jansen, an engineer construction team leader. “Part of the SFAB, in my mind, and the reason that I wanted to go here was to contribute to that unfinished business.”

Capt. Kristopher Farrar, an infantryman assigned to the 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade, advises his simulated partner on maneuvering through the wood line to reach their objective during a Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, La. (Sgt. Arjenis Nunez/Army)

Capt. Kristopher Farrar, an infantryman assigned to the 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade, advises his simulated partner on maneuvering through the wood line to reach their objective during a Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, La. (Sgt. Arjenis Nunez/Army)

Capt. Kristopher Farrar, an infantryman assigned to the 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade, advises his simulated partner on maneuvering through the wood line to reach their objective during a Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, La. (Sgt. Arjenis Nunez/Army)

The right stuff

Members of the SFAB are required to have completed the key leadership positions for their ranks, which means that everyone has already been a battalion commander, a company commander, a team or a squad leader.

For many, the next tick on their career timeline would have been an instructor job or related broadening opportunity.

And for them, joining the SFAB was a way to stay in the fight.

“Once your platoon sergeant time is over, they’re not really in a hurry to send you back out to be a platoon sergeant, because there are other people who need it,” said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Mayzik, C Company, 3rd Battalion team NCO-in-charge.

“I could go back out, be with soldiers, be in the field, do all the fun stuff that I signed up to do,” he added.

For some younger NCOs, it was time to branch out.

“It was a point in time in my career when I was ready to move into something new and this was it,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Senn, a cavalry scout and adviser. “This is one of the only opportunities to broaden yourself and still be a deploying part of the Army.”

For others, working in a smaller, more elite unit has already sharpened their skills.

“We get to go to a lot of courses that are not normally open to us,” said combat medic Staff Sgt. Jarrid Lovenburg, who completed the Tactical Combat Medical Care course. “Unless you’re an actual treatment NCO working at Role 1 [like a battalion aid station] or higher, you normally don’t get to go to that.”

Like any brigade combat team, members of the SFAB are predominantly male. Women have only been allowed to serve in infantry and cavalry units — two of the biggest sources of SFAB soldiers — since 2016.

But in addition to small teams of 11Bs and 19Ds, the SFAB also has the full complement of gender-integrated support staff, from medical to personnel to supply.

Spc. John Ellis, an explosive ordnance specialist with the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, helps an Afghan National Army role player learn to deactivate an improvised explosive device during a simulated scenario at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La. (Pfc. Zoe Garbarino/Army)

Spc. John Ellis, an explosive ordnance specialist with the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, helps an Afghan National Army role player learn to deactivate an improvised explosive device during a simulated scenario at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La. (Pfc. Zoe Garbarino/Army)

Spc. John Ellis, an explosive ordnance specialist with the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, helps an Afghan National Army role player learn to deactivate an improvised explosive device during a simulated scenario at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La. (Pfc. Zoe Garbarino/Army)

To fill some of these positions, the Army reached down into its records to find the best people in their skill areas to bring to Afghanistan.

One of them is Sgt. Diego Gantivar, a wheeled vehicle mechanic who has never been in combat, but had 20 years as a civilian mechanic before he enlisted.

Earlier in 2017, his sergeant major called him in to tell him he’d come up on a list of good candidates for combat advising.

“I probably consider myself one of the most qualified mechanics in the United States Army,” he said.

He’ll be tasked with teaching Afghan troops to repair and maintain their vehicles, starting with problem one: An unreliable supply chain.

“When I went to selection, they already had notified me that was one of their problems,” he said. “On my CAT team, our clerk, he’s usually the one that gets the part in your regular motor pool. With him and I, we’re going to try to find, where’s that missed connection? Why are they not getting their parts?”

Sweeping, hauling, stacking

Everyone in the SFAB is an E-5 and above. Thanks to the Army’s promotion incentive, specialists who sign up are awarded full promotion points and an automatic bump once they finish the Military Training Adviser Academy at Fort Benning, Georgia.

This has its good and bad points, members told Army Times.

“In this type of unit, it doesn’t matter — officer, enlisted, NCO — everybody is a high-quality individual,” Moncuse said. “No one needs extra attention.”

This is rare in any formation, let alone combat arms. Multiple leaders expressed delight in commanding a unit where you tell a subordinate to do something once, and it’s done.

Having a brigade full of above-average PT performers, who have experience tying up every loose end before a deployment, brings down the time the units have to spend on administrative noise.

“That has given us maximum time to focus on the mission at hand,” Moncuse said. “It allowed us to go from zero to where we are now in a matter of months.”

From a senior leader perspective, there are positives and negatives, 3rd Battalion commander Lt. Col. Ian Palmer told Army Times.

“The advantages are that the overall maturity of the organization is a lot higher,” he said. “There are things that you don’t have to say to an organization like this — they automatically know.”

The downside, Palmer said, is that you don’t get the same mentoring relationship that leaders have with their junior soldiers.

There’s also a noticeable lack of readily available labor.

You see it everywhere at FOB Warrior, where the teams plan events and eat two hot meals together every day.

After breakfast, a sergeant first class folds chairs and puts them up on tables.

“And if you want to see two captains, a sergeant first class and a sergeant sweeping the motor pool — I’ve carried more tough boxes in the last six months than I imagined I would in my entire life,” Hawkins said.

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In Ukraine, Corruption Is Now Undermining the Military

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KIEV, Ukraine — Nearly four years into a grinding war against rebels armed by Russia, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry proudly announced last month that it had improved its previously meager medical services for its wounded troops with the purchase and delivery of 100 new military ambulances.

Not mentioned, however, was that many of the ambulances had already broken down. Or that they had been sold to the military under a no-bid contract by an auto company owned by a senior official in charge of procurement for Ukraine’s armed forces. Or that the official, Oleg Gladkovskyi, is an old friend and business partner of Ukraine’s president, Petro O. Poroshenko.

Ukraine’s spending on defense and security has soared since the conflict in the east started in 2014, rising from around 2.5 percent of its gross domestic product in 2013 to more than 5 percent this year, when it will total around $6 billion.

This bonanza, which will push procurement spending in 2018 to more than $700 million, has enabled Ukraine to rebuild its dilapidated military and fight to a standstill pro-Russian rebels and their heavily armed Russian backers.

But by pumping so much money through the hands of Ukrainian officials and businessmen — often the same people — the surge in military spending has also held back efforts to defeat the corruption and self-dealing[1] that many see as Ukraine’s most dangerous enemy.

The problem has throttled the hopes raised in February 2014 by the ouster of Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt, pro-Russian former president, Viktor F. Yanukovych. It has also left the country’s dispirited Western backers and many Ukrainians wondering what, after two revolutions since independence in 1991, it will take to curb the chronic corruption.

“It serves no purpose for Ukraine to fight for its body in Donbas if it loses its soul to corruption,” Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson warned last year, referring to regions of eastern Ukraine seized by Russian-backed separatists after the ouster of Mr. Yanukovych.

Ukraine has made considerable progress since 2014 in draining pools of corruption in the gas business, a major source of income for crooked tycoons under Mr. Yanukovych. It has overhauled the state energy company, Naftogaz, and reduced the scope for corrupt gas deals by insiders by cutting its reliance on supplies from Russia’s energy giant, Gazprom.

Military spending, however, has opened up new vistas for opaque insider deals, sheltered from scrutiny by a cone of secrecy that covers the details of military spending.

“Corruption in the energy sector has been reduced, so some of the main avenues for corruption have moved to defense,” said Olena Tregub, the secretary general of the Independent Defense Anti-Corruption Committee, a research group funded by Western donors.

While Mr. Gladkovskyi acknowledged that the ambulance purchase did not involve an open tender for bids, there is no evidence that he tilted military contracts for ambulances and other vehicles toward his own company, something he denies doing. But the appearance of a blatant conflict of interest is just one of many in a country where business and political power form a tangled skein of overlapping, opaque and often lucrative transactions.

“There is no proof that he influenced purchasing decisions, and there never will be. It is all secret,” said Victor Chumak, an independent member of the Ukrainian Parliament and deputy chairman of its anticorruption committee. “The merging of politics and business is our biggest problem.”

President Petro O. Poroshenko, right, at celebrations of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces last year. He hopes to win re-election next year.CreditMaxym Marusenko/NurPhoto, via Getty Images

Emblematic of the intertwining of business and politics and the rich fruit this can yield are three lavish villas on the southern Spanish coast. They are owned by President Poroshenko, Mr. Gladkovskyi and Ihor Kononenko, another business partner of the president who leads Mr. Poroshenko’s faction in Parliament.

All three were wealthy businessmen before taking official posts, but they have nonetheless stirred suspicion by being less than forthcoming about their holdings. None of them declared the Spanish properties in mandatory filings of assets, an annual declaration of wealth by senior officials introduced in 2016 as part of a now-stalled drive for greater transparency and accountability.

Conflicts of interest are so widespread “that you are no longer even shocked,” said Aivaras Abromavicius, a former investment banker from Lithuania who helped lead a since-becalmed push for clean government while serving as Ukraine’s minister of economy and trade. “They are all over the place. It is sad, depressing and discouraging.”

Such disappointment has already cost Ukraine dearly. The International Monetary Fund and the European Union, frustrated by foot-dragging over the establishment of a long-promised independent anticorruption court and other setbacks, have suspended assistance money totaling more than $5 billion.

“Ukraine lived for decades in a state of total corruption,” said Artem Sytnyk, director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, known as NABU, an independent agency set up in 2015 during an initial burst of enthusiasm for clean government following the ouster of Mr. Yanukovych. “These schemes have now been renewed and are again working. Some people simply don’t want to get rid of them.”

His bureau has assembled evidence in 107 cases against previously untouchable officials, but only one has ended with a court sentence. The rest are stalled in a sluggish judicial system addled by corruption and political meddling[2].

NABU’s efforts to delve into defense-related embezzlement, which led to the arrest last year of a deputy defense minister and the ministry’s procurement chief, led to a flurry of moves to neuter the anticorruption body.

“This is a very sensitive zone,” Mr. Sytnyk said.

NABU has come under sustained attack in recent months, with Parliament drafting legislation, later dropped, that would have emasculated the agency and with the domestic intelligence service raiding the homes of NABU employees.

Mr. Poroshenko, who is expected to seek re-election next year, has positioned himself as a leader who rebuilt Ukraine’s ramshackle military and stood up to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. To the consternation of the Ukrainian leader, though, the conflict with pro-Russian separatists is slowly mutating in the public mind from a heroic struggle into yet another sinkhole of profiteering and graft.

Helping along this shift has been Mikheil Saakashvili,[3] the former president of Georgia who, until he was grabbed by Ukrainian security officers last week in a Kiev restaurant and bundled against his will onto a plane bound for Poland,[4] had led a new political party in Kiev focused on denouncing corruption. His supporters in Kiev have joined angry veterans of the war in the east in a protest encampment outside the Ukrainian Parliament. Their tents and barricades are festooned with banners accusing Mr. Poroshenko and his business pals of thieving while soldiers are dying.

“Nobody mentions Putin anymore, and the ‘P’ word now is Poroshenko,” Mr. Saakashvili said in an interview in Kiev shortly before his expulsion from Ukraine. “This is not fair, because Putin is mostly responsible, but people see that there is a war and that Poroshenko and his friends are making money out of it.”

Mr. Abromavicius, the former economy minister, who quit in fury over the backtracking on anticorruption efforts, said he did not believe that Mr. Poroshenko was profiting personally from the conflict in the east. But he said the president has left himself exposed by failing to deliver on promises to sell off his business assets or to set up a genuinely independent anticorruption court.

Mr. Gladkovskyi defended the secrecy and the absence of public tenders for most military equipment, including ambulances, as necessary to prevent Russia from meddling in purchases by submitting phony bids through fake companies, which he says it has done repeatedly when competitive bidding has been attempted.

Mr. Saakashvili, right, at the Kiev Court of Appeal in January, has taken on the role of a corruption fighter.CreditAlexey Furman for The New York Times

“Nobody is making money from the war,” he said.

Mr. Gladkovskyi said that he had withdrawn from business decisions at his auto company, Bogdan Motors, and that his only knowledge of the ambulances came from visits to the front line, where he saw his vehicles and felt proud that Bogdan was assisting the war effort.

“Corruption,” he added in an interview, “is really very serious, but it is not connected with the system I am running.”

Looming large in this system is Ukroboronprom, a sprawling state conglomerate comprising 130 defense companies and employing around 80,000 people. Dmitro Maksimov, a former employee in Ukroboronprom’s control department, said shady deals in procurement were “the essence” of the conglomerate’s operations.

He recounted how a small screwlike piece of metal purchased by Ukroboronprom for an aircraft repair factory in Lviv had skyrocketed from $50 in early 2014 to nearly $4,000 a year later, after Ukroboronprom mysteriously shifted its business to an outside supplier.

Mr. Maksimov said he had raised this and other inexplicably high prices with his superiors, but was told to drop the matter and was later fired, a dismissal he is challenging in court.

Denys Gurak, the conglomerate’s young deputy director, said he did not know about Mr. Maksimov’s complaints but acknowledged that corruption existed in the defense sector. He added that after years of systematic looting under Mr. Yanukovych — who he said set up Ukroboronprom in 2010 so as to centralize stealing — “it is a miracle we can still do anything.”

“It is a systemic problem for the whole country, not just one sector,” he said. “The system does not work, so people steal. This is why the Soviet Union collapsed.”

He said that Ukroboronprom had itself sent 200 reports to prosecutors about corruption in its ranks but that only two of these had ended up in convictions, and suspended sentences.

The defense conglomerate last week announced, without explanation, the resignation of its director general, Roman Romanov.

Daria Kaleniuk, director of the Anticorruption Action Center, a nongovernmental group in Kiev, said that transparency and accountability are national security issues that must be addressed if Ukraine is not only to create a functioning European-style democracy, but also to hold its own on the battlefield in the east.

They would also help clarify why the military ambulances sold by Mr. Gladkovskyi’s auto company keep breaking down and why they were purchased in the first place.

A report last year by the Independent Defense Anti-Corruption Committee said that each vehicle, whose chassis is Chinese made, had cost the Ukrainian Defense Ministry $32,000, much more than an ambulance imported from China would cost, and could carry only 800 pounds, far too little for a vehicle that would need a driver, armed guards and medical staff.

Valentina Varava, a volunteer who delivers supplies to troops in the east, said the ambulances were designed for urban roads, but “in the military zone, there are no roads.”

She said that as many as 19 of the 50 vehicles so far delivered to the east were out of service. The Ministry of Defense, she added, recently decided to buy 100 more ambulances from Mr. Gladkovskyi’s auto company.

Iulia Mendel contributed reporting.

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0

In Ukraine, Corruption Is Now Undermining the Military

Advertisement

KIEV, Ukraine — Nearly four years into a grinding war against rebels armed by Russia, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry proudly announced last month that it had improved its previously meager medical services for its wounded troops with the purchase and delivery of 100 new military ambulances.

Not mentioned, however, was that many of the ambulances had already broken down. Or that they had been sold to the military under a no-bid contract by an auto company owned by a senior official in charge of procurement for Ukraine’s armed forces. Or that the official, Oleg Gladkovskyi, is an old friend and business partner of Ukraine’s president, Petro O. Poroshenko.

Ukraine’s spending on defense and security has soared since the conflict in the east started in 2014, rising from around 2.5 percent of its gross domestic product in 2013 to more than 5 percent this year, when it will total around $6 billion.

This bonanza, which will push procurement spending in 2018 to more than $700 million, has enabled Ukraine to rebuild its dilapidated military and fight to a standstill pro-Russian rebels and their heavily armed Russian backers.

But by pumping so much money through the hands of Ukrainian officials and businessmen — often the same people — the surge in military spending has also held back efforts to defeat the corruption and self-dealing[1] that many see as Ukraine’s most dangerous enemy.

The problem has throttled the hopes raised in February 2014 by the ouster of Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt, pro-Russian former president, Viktor F. Yanukovych. It has also left the country’s dispirited Western backers and many Ukrainians wondering what, after two revolutions since independence in 1991, it will take to curb the chronic corruption.

“It serves no purpose for Ukraine to fight for its body in Donbas if it loses its soul to corruption,” Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson warned last year, referring to regions of eastern Ukraine seized by Russian-backed separatists after the ouster of Mr. Yanukovych.

Ukraine has made considerable progress since 2014 in draining pools of corruption in the gas business, a major source of income for crooked tycoons under Mr. Yanukovych. It has overhauled the state energy company, Naftogaz, and reduced the scope for corrupt gas deals by insiders by cutting its reliance on supplies from Russia’s energy giant, Gazprom.

Military spending, however, has opened up new vistas for opaque insider deals, sheltered from scrutiny by a cone of secrecy that covers the details of military spending.

“Corruption in the energy sector has been reduced, so some of the main avenues for corruption have moved to defense,” said Olena Tregub, the secretary general of the Independent Defense Anti-Corruption Committee, a research group funded by Western donors.

While Mr. Gladkovskyi acknowledged that the ambulance purchase did not involve an open tender for bids, there is no evidence that he tilted military contracts for ambulances and other vehicles toward his own company, something he denies doing. But the appearance of a blatant conflict of interest is just one of many in a country where business and political power form a tangled skein of overlapping, opaque and often lucrative transactions.

“There is no proof that he influenced purchasing decisions, and there never will be. It is all secret,” said Victor Chumak, an independent member of the Ukrainian Parliament and deputy chairman of its anticorruption committee. “The merging of politics and business is our biggest problem.”

President Petro O. Poroshenko, right, at celebrations of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces last year. He hopes to win re-election next year.CreditMaxym Marusenko/NurPhoto, via Getty Images

Emblematic of the intertwining of business and politics and the rich fruit this can yield are three lavish villas on the southern Spanish coast. They are owned by President Poroshenko, Mr. Gladkovskyi and Ihor Kononenko, another business partner of the president who leads Mr. Poroshenko’s faction in Parliament.

All three were wealthy businessmen before taking official posts, but they have nonetheless stirred suspicion by being less than forthcoming about their holdings. None of them declared the Spanish properties in mandatory filings of assets, an annual declaration of wealth by senior officials introduced in 2016 as part of a now-stalled drive for greater transparency and accountability.

Conflicts of interest are so widespread “that you are no longer even shocked,” said Aivaras Abromavicius, a former investment banker from Lithuania who helped lead a since-becalmed push for clean government while serving as Ukraine’s minister of economy and trade. “They are all over the place. It is sad, depressing and discouraging.”

Such disappointment has already cost Ukraine dearly. The International Monetary Fund and the European Union, frustrated by foot-dragging over the establishment of a long-promised independent anticorruption court and other setbacks, have suspended assistance money totaling more than $5 billion.

“Ukraine lived for decades in a state of total corruption,” said Artem Sytnyk, director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, known as NABU, an independent agency set up in 2015 during an initial burst of enthusiasm for clean government following the ouster of Mr. Yanukovych. “These schemes have now been renewed and are again working. Some people simply don’t want to get rid of them.”

His bureau has assembled evidence in 107 cases against previously untouchable officials, but only one has ended with a court sentence. The rest are stalled in a sluggish judicial system addled by corruption and political meddling[2].

NABU’s efforts to delve into defense-related embezzlement, which led to the arrest last year of a deputy defense minister and the ministry’s procurement chief, led to a flurry of moves to neuter the anticorruption body.

“This is a very sensitive zone,” Mr. Sytnyk said.

NABU has come under sustained attack in recent months, with Parliament drafting legislation, later dropped, that would have emasculated the agency and with the domestic intelligence service raiding the homes of NABU employees.

Mr. Poroshenko, who is expected to seek re-election next year, has positioned himself as a leader who rebuilt Ukraine’s ramshackle military and stood up to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. To the consternation of the Ukrainian leader, though, the conflict with pro-Russian separatists is slowly mutating in the public mind from a heroic struggle into yet another sinkhole of profiteering and graft.

Helping along this shift has been Mikheil Saakashvili,[3] the former president of Georgia who, until he was grabbed by Ukrainian security officers last week in a Kiev restaurant and bundled against his will onto a plane bound for Poland,[4] had led a new political party in Kiev focused on denouncing corruption. His supporters in Kiev have joined angry veterans of the war in the east in a protest encampment outside the Ukrainian Parliament. Their tents and barricades are festooned with banners accusing Mr. Poroshenko and his business pals of thieving while soldiers are dying.

“Nobody mentions Putin anymore, and the ‘P’ word now is Poroshenko,” Mr. Saakashvili said in an interview in Kiev shortly before his expulsion from Ukraine. “This is not fair, because Putin is mostly responsible, but people see that there is a war and that Poroshenko and his friends are making money out of it.”

Mr. Abromavicius, the former economy minister, who quit in fury over the backtracking on anticorruption efforts, said he did not believe that Mr. Poroshenko was profiting personally from the conflict in the east. But he said the president has left himself exposed by failing to deliver on promises to sell off his business assets or to set up a genuinely independent anticorruption court.

Mr. Gladkovskyi defended the secrecy and the absence of public tenders for most military equipment, including ambulances, as necessary to prevent Russia from meddling in purchases by submitting phony bids through fake companies, which he says it has done repeatedly when competitive bidding has been attempted.

Mr. Saakashvili, right, at the Kiev Court of Appeal in January, has taken on the role of a corruption fighter.CreditAlexey Furman for The New York Times

“Nobody is making money from the war,” he said.

Mr. Gladkovskyi said that he had withdrawn from business decisions at his auto company, Bogdan Motors, and that his only knowledge of the ambulances came from visits to the front line, where he saw his vehicles and felt proud that Bogdan was assisting the war effort.

“Corruption,” he added in an interview, “is really very serious, but it is not connected with the system I am running.”

Looming large in this system is Ukroboronprom, a sprawling state conglomerate comprising 130 defense companies and employing around 80,000 people. Dmitro Maksimov, a former employee in Ukroboronprom’s control department, said shady deals in procurement were “the essence” of the conglomerate’s operations.

He recounted how a small screwlike piece of metal purchased by Ukroboronprom for an aircraft repair factory in Lviv had skyrocketed from $50 in early 2014 to nearly $4,000 a year later, after Ukroboronprom mysteriously shifted its business to an outside supplier.

Mr. Maksimov said he had raised this and other inexplicably high prices with his superiors, but was told to drop the matter and was later fired, a dismissal he is challenging in court.

Denys Gurak, the conglomerate’s young deputy director, said he did not know about Mr. Maksimov’s complaints but acknowledged that corruption existed in the defense sector. He added that after years of systematic looting under Mr. Yanukovych — who he said set up Ukroboronprom in 2010 so as to centralize stealing — “it is a miracle we can still do anything.”

“It is a systemic problem for the whole country, not just one sector,” he said. “The system does not work, so people steal. This is why the Soviet Union collapsed.”

He said that Ukroboronprom had itself sent 200 reports to prosecutors about corruption in its ranks but that only two of these had ended up in convictions, and suspended sentences.

The defense conglomerate last week announced, without explanation, the resignation of its director general, Roman Romanov.

Daria Kaleniuk, director of the Anticorruption Action Center, a nongovernmental group in Kiev, said that transparency and accountability are national security issues that must be addressed if Ukraine is not only to create a functioning European-style democracy, but also to hold its own on the battlefield in the east.

They would also help clarify why the military ambulances sold by Mr. Gladkovskyi’s auto company keep breaking down and why they were purchased in the first place.

A report last year by the Independent Defense Anti-Corruption Committee said that each vehicle, whose chassis is Chinese made, had cost the Ukrainian Defense Ministry $32,000, much more than an ambulance imported from China would cost, and could carry only 800 pounds, far too little for a vehicle that would need a driver, armed guards and medical staff.

Valentina Varava, a volunteer who delivers supplies to troops in the east, said the ambulances were designed for urban roads, but “in the military zone, there are no roads.”

She said that as many as 19 of the 50 vehicles so far delivered to the east were out of service. The Ministry of Defense, she added, recently decided to buy 100 more ambulances from Mr. Gladkovskyi’s auto company.

Iulia Mendel contributed reporting.

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0

In Ukraine, Corruption Is Now Undermining the Military

Advertisement

KIEV, Ukraine — Nearly four years into a grinding war against rebels armed by Russia, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry proudly announced last month that it had improved its previously meager medical services for its wounded troops with the purchase and delivery of 100 new military ambulances.

Not mentioned, however, was that many of the ambulances had already broken down. Or that they had been sold to the military under a no-bid contract by an auto company owned by a senior official in charge of procurement for Ukraine’s armed forces. Or that the official, Oleg Gladkovskyi, is an old friend and business partner of Ukraine’s president, Petro O. Poroshenko.

Ukraine’s spending on defense and security has soared since the conflict in the east started in 2014, rising from around 2.5 percent of its gross domestic product in 2013 to more than 5 percent this year, when it will total around $6 billion.

This bonanza, which will push procurement spending in 2018 to more than $700 million, has enabled Ukraine to rebuild its dilapidated military and fight to a standstill pro-Russian rebels and their heavily armed Russian backers.

But by pumping so much money through the hands of Ukrainian officials and businessmen — often the same people — the surge in military spending has also held back efforts to defeat the corruption and self-dealing[1] that many see as Ukraine’s most dangerous enemy.

The problem has throttled the hopes raised in February 2014 by the ouster of Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt, pro-Russian former president, Viktor F. Yanukovych. It has also left the country’s dispirited Western backers and many Ukrainians wondering what, after two revolutions since independence in 1991, it will take to curb the chronic corruption.

“It serves no purpose for Ukraine to fight for its body in Donbas if it loses its soul to corruption,” Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson warned last year, referring to regions of eastern Ukraine seized by Russian-backed separatists after the ouster of Mr. Yanukovych.

Ukraine has made considerable progress since 2014 in draining pools of corruption in the gas business, a major source of income for crooked tycoons under Mr. Yanukovych. It has overhauled the state energy company, Naftogaz, and reduced the scope for corrupt gas deals by insiders by cutting its reliance on supplies from Russia’s energy giant, Gazprom.

Military spending, however, has opened up new vistas for opaque insider deals, sheltered from scrutiny by a cone of secrecy that covers the details of military spending.

“Corruption in the energy sector has been reduced, so some of the main avenues for corruption have moved to defense,” said Olena Tregub, the secretary general of the Independent Defense Anti-Corruption Committee, a research group funded by Western donors.

While Mr. Gladkovskyi acknowledged that the ambulance purchase did not involve an open tender for bids, there is no evidence that he tilted military contracts for ambulances and other vehicles toward his own company, something he denies doing. But the appearance of a blatant conflict of interest is just one of many in a country where business and political power form a tangled skein of overlapping, opaque and often lucrative transactions.

“There is no proof that he influenced purchasing decisions, and there never will be. It is all secret,” said Victor Chumak, an independent member of the Ukrainian Parliament and deputy chairman of its anticorruption committee. “The merging of politics and business is our biggest problem.”

President Petro O. Poroshenko, right, at celebrations of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces last year. He hopes to win re-election next year.CreditMaxym Marusenko/NurPhoto, via Getty Images

Emblematic of the intertwining of business and politics and the rich fruit this can yield are three lavish villas on the southern Spanish coast. They are owned by President Poroshenko, Mr. Gladkovskyi and Ihor Kononenko, another business partner of the president who leads Mr. Poroshenko’s faction in Parliament.

All three were wealthy businessmen before taking official posts, but they have nonetheless stirred suspicion by being less than forthcoming about their holdings. None of them declared the Spanish properties in mandatory filings of assets, an annual declaration of wealth by senior officials introduced in 2016 as part of a now-stalled drive for greater transparency and accountability.

Conflicts of interest are so widespread “that you are no longer even shocked,” said Aivaras Abromavicius, a former investment banker from Lithuania who helped lead a since-becalmed push for clean government while serving as Ukraine’s minister of economy and trade. “They are all over the place. It is sad, depressing and discouraging.”

Such disappointment has already cost Ukraine dearly. The International Monetary Fund and the European Union, frustrated by foot-dragging over the establishment of a long-promised independent anticorruption court and other setbacks, have suspended assistance money totaling more than $5 billion.

“Ukraine lived for decades in a state of total corruption,” said Artem Sytnyk, director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, known as NABU, an independent agency set up in 2015 during an initial burst of enthusiasm for clean government following the ouster of Mr. Yanukovych. “These schemes have now been renewed and are again working. Some people simply don’t want to get rid of them.”

His bureau has assembled evidence in 107 cases against previously untouchable officials, but only one has ended with a court sentence. The rest are stalled in a sluggish judicial system addled by corruption and political meddling[2].

NABU’s efforts to delve into defense-related embezzlement, which led to the arrest last year of a deputy defense minister and the ministry’s procurement chief, led to a flurry of moves to neuter the anticorruption body.

“This is a very sensitive zone,” Mr. Sytnyk said.

NABU has come under sustained attack in recent months, with Parliament drafting legislation, later dropped, that would have emasculated the agency and with the domestic intelligence service raiding the homes of NABU employees.

Mr. Poroshenko, who is expected to seek re-election next year, has positioned himself as a leader who rebuilt Ukraine’s ramshackle military and stood up to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. To the consternation of the Ukrainian leader, though, the conflict with pro-Russian separatists is slowly mutating in the public mind from a heroic struggle into yet another sinkhole of profiteering and graft.

Helping along this shift has been Mikheil Saakashvili,[3] the former president of Georgia who, until he was grabbed by Ukrainian security officers last week in a Kiev restaurant and bundled against his will onto a plane bound for Poland,[4] had led a new political party in Kiev focused on denouncing corruption. His supporters in Kiev have joined angry veterans of the war in the east in a protest encampment outside the Ukrainian Parliament. Their tents and barricades are festooned with banners accusing Mr. Poroshenko and his business pals of thieving while soldiers are dying.

“Nobody mentions Putin anymore, and the ‘P’ word now is Poroshenko,” Mr. Saakashvili said in an interview in Kiev shortly before his expulsion from Ukraine. “This is not fair, because Putin is mostly responsible, but people see that there is a war and that Poroshenko and his friends are making money out of it.”

Mr. Abromavicius, the former economy minister, who quit in fury over the backtracking on anticorruption efforts, said he did not believe that Mr. Poroshenko was profiting personally from the conflict in the east. But he said the president has left himself exposed by failing to deliver on promises to sell off his business assets or to set up a genuinely independent anticorruption court.

Mr. Gladkovskyi defended the secrecy and the absence of public tenders for most military equipment, including ambulances, as necessary to prevent Russia from meddling in purchases by submitting phony bids through fake companies, which he says it has done repeatedly when competitive bidding has been attempted.

Mr. Saakashvili, right, at the Kiev Court of Appeal in January, has taken on the role of a corruption fighter.CreditAlexey Furman for The New York Times

“Nobody is making money from the war,” he said.

Mr. Gladkovskyi said that he had withdrawn from business decisions at his auto company, Bogdan Motors, and that his only knowledge of the ambulances came from visits to the front line, where he saw his vehicles and felt proud that Bogdan was assisting the war effort.

“Corruption,” he added in an interview, “is really very serious, but it is not connected with the system I am running.”

Looming large in this system is Ukroboronprom, a sprawling state conglomerate comprising 130 defense companies and employing around 80,000 people. Dmitro Maksimov, a former employee in Ukroboronprom’s control department, said shady deals in procurement were “the essence” of the conglomerate’s operations.

He recounted how a small screwlike piece of metal purchased by Ukroboronprom for an aircraft repair factory in Lviv had skyrocketed from $50 in early 2014 to nearly $4,000 a year later, after Ukroboronprom mysteriously shifted its business to an outside supplier.

Mr. Maksimov said he had raised this and other inexplicably high prices with his superiors, but was told to drop the matter and was later fired, a dismissal he is challenging in court.

Denys Gurak, the conglomerate’s young deputy director, said he did not know about Mr. Maksimov’s complaints but acknowledged that corruption existed in the defense sector. He added that after years of systematic looting under Mr. Yanukovych — who he said set up Ukroboronprom in 2010 so as to centralize stealing — “it is a miracle we can still do anything.”

“It is a systemic problem for the whole country, not just one sector,” he said. “The system does not work, so people steal. This is why the Soviet Union collapsed.”

He said that Ukroboronprom had itself sent 200 reports to prosecutors about corruption in its ranks but that only two of these had ended up in convictions, and suspended sentences.

The defense conglomerate last week announced, without explanation, the resignation of its director general, Roman Romanov.

Daria Kaleniuk, director of the Anticorruption Action Center, a nongovernmental group in Kiev, said that transparency and accountability are national security issues that must be addressed if Ukraine is not only to create a functioning European-style democracy, but also to hold its own on the battlefield in the east.

They would also help clarify why the military ambulances sold by Mr. Gladkovskyi’s auto company keep breaking down and why they were purchased in the first place.

A report last year by the Independent Defense Anti-Corruption Committee said that each vehicle, whose chassis is Chinese made, had cost the Ukrainian Defense Ministry $32,000, much more than an ambulance imported from China would cost, and could carry only 800 pounds, far too little for a vehicle that would need a driver, armed guards and medical staff.

Valentina Varava, a volunteer who delivers supplies to troops in the east, said the ambulances were designed for urban roads, but “in the military zone, there are no roads.”

She said that as many as 19 of the 50 vehicles so far delivered to the east were out of service. The Ministry of Defense, she added, recently decided to buy 100 more ambulances from Mr. Gladkovskyi’s auto company.

Iulia Mendel contributed reporting.

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In Ukraine, Corruption Is Now Undermining the Military

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KIEV, Ukraine — Nearly four years into a grinding war against rebels armed by Russia, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry proudly announced last month that it had improved its previously meager medical services for its wounded troops with the purchase and delivery of 100 new military ambulances.

Not mentioned, however, was that many of the ambulances had already broken down. Or that they had been sold to the military under a no-bid contract by an auto company owned by a senior official in charge of procurement for Ukraine’s armed forces. Or that the official, Oleg Gladkovskyi, is an old friend and longtime business partner of , Petro O. Poroshenko.

Ukraine’s spending on defense and security has soared since the conflict in the east started in 2014, rising from around 2.5 percent of its gross domestic product in 2013 to more than 5 percent this year, when it will total around $6 billion.

This bonanza, which will push procurement spending in 2018 to more than $700 million, has enabled Ukraine to rebuild its dilapidated military and fight to a standstill pro-Russian rebels and their heavily armed Russian backers.

But by pumping so much money through the hands of Ukrainian officials and businessmen — often the same people — the surge in military spending has also held back efforts to defeat the corruption and self-dealing[1] that many see as Ukraine’s most dangerous enemy.

The problem has throttled many of the hopes raised in February 2014 by the ouster of Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt, pro-Russian former president, Viktor F. Yanukovych. It has also left the country’s dispirited Western backers and many Ukrainians wondering what, after two revolutions since independence in 1991, it will take to curb the chronic corruption.

“It serves no purpose for Ukraine to fight for its body in Donbas if it loses its soul to corruption,” Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson warned last year, referring to regions of eastern Ukraine seized by Russian-backed separatists after the ouster of Mr. Yanukovych.

Ukraine has made considerable progress since 2014 in draining pools of corruption in the gas business, a major source of income for crooked tycoons under Mr. Yanukovych. It has overhauled the state energy company, Naftogaz, and reduced the scope for corrupt gas deals by insiders by cutting its reliance on supplies from Russia’s energy giant, Gazprom.

Military spending, however, has opened up new vistas for opaque insider deals, sheltered from scrutiny by a cone of secrecy that covers the details of military spending.

“Corruption in the energy sector has been reduced, so some of the main avenues for corruption have moved to defense,” said Olena Tregub, the secretary general of the Independent Defense Anti-Corruption Committee, a research group funded by Western donors.

While Mr. Gladkovskyi acknowledged that the ambulance purchase did not involve an open tender for bids, there is no evidence that he tilted military contracts for ambulances and other vehicles toward his own company, something he firmly denies doing. But the appearance of a blatant conflict of interest is just one of many in a country where business and political power form a tangled skein of overlapping, opaque and often highly lucrative transactions.

“There is no proof that he influenced purchasing decisions, and there never will be. It is all secret,” said Victor Chumak, an independent member of the Ukrainian Parliament and deputy chairman of its anticorruption committee. “The merging of politics and business is our biggest problem.”

President Petro O. Poroshenko, right, at celebrations of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces last year. He hopes to win re-election next year.CreditMaxym Marusenko/NurPhoto, via Getty Images

Emblematic of the incestuous intertwining of business and politics and the rich fruit this can yield are three lavish villas on the southern Spanish coast. They are owned by President Poroshenko, Mr. Gladkovskyi and Ihor Kononenko, another business partner of the president who leads Mr. Poroshenko’s faction in Parliament.

All three were wealthy businessmen before taking official posts, but they have nonetheless stirred suspicion by being less than forthcoming about their holdings. None of them declared the Spanish properties in mandatory filings of assets, an annual declaration of wealth by senior officials introduced in 2016 as part of a now-stalled drive for greater transparency and accountability.

Conflicts of interest are so widespread “that you are no longer even shocked,” said Aivaras Abromavicius, a former investment banker from Lithuania who helped lead a since-becalmed push for clean government while serving as Ukraine’s minister of economy and trade from 2014 to 2016. “They are all over the place. It is sad, depressing and discouraging.”

Such disappointment has already cost Ukraine dearly. The International Monetary Fund and the European Union, frustrated by foot-dragging over the establishment of a long-promised independent anticorruption court and other setbacks, have suspended assistance money totaling more than $5 billion.

“Ukraine lived for decades in a state of total corruption,” said Artem Sytnyk, director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, known as NABU, an independent agency set up in 2015 during an initial burst of enthusiasm for clean government following the ouster of Mr. Yanukovych. “These schemes have now been renewed and are again working. Some people simply don’t want to get rid of them.”

His bureau has assembled evidence in 107 cases against previously untouchable officials, but only one has ended with a court sentence. The rest are stalled in a sluggish judicial system addled by corruption and political meddling[2].

NABU’s efforts to delve into defense-related embezzlement, which led to the arrest last year of a deputy defense minister and the ministry’s procurement chief, led to a flurry of moves by the authorities to neuter the anticorruption body.

“This is a very sensitive zone,” Mr. Sytnyk said.

NABU has come under sustained attack in recent months, with Parliament drafting legislation, later dropped, that would have emasculated the agency and with the domestic intelligence service raiding the homes of NABU employees.

Mr. Poroshenko who is expected to seek re-election next year, has positioned himself as a leader who rebuilt Ukraine’s ramshackle military and stood up to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. To the consternation of the Ukraine leader, though, the conflict with pro-Russian separatists is slowly mutating in the public mind from a heroic struggle into yet another sinkhole of profiteering and graft.

Helping along this shift has been Mikheil Saakashvili,[3] the former president of Georgia who, until he was grabbed by Ukrainian security officers last week in a Kiev restaurant and bundled against his will onto a plane bound for Poland,[4] had led a new political party in Kiev focused on denouncing corruption. His supporters in Kiev have joined angry veterans of the war in the east in a protest encampment outside the Ukrainian Parliament. Their tents and barricades are festooned with banners accusing Mr. Poroshenko and his business pals of thieving while soldiers are dying.

“Nobody mentions Putin anymore, and the ‘P’ word now is Poroshenko,” Mr. Saakashvili said in an interview in Kiev shortly before his expulsion from Ukraine. “This is not fair, because Putin is mostly responsible, but people see that there is a war and that Poroshenko and his friends are making money out of it.”

Mr. Abromavicius, the former economy minister, who quit in fury over the backtracking on anticorruption efforts, said he did not believe that Mr. Poroshenko was profiting personally from the conflict in the east. But he said the president has left himself exposed by failing to deliver on promises to sell off his business assets or to set up a genuinely independent anticorruption court.

Mr. Gladkovskyi defended the secrecy and the absence of public tenders for most military equipment, including ambulances, as necessary to prevent Russia from meddling in purchases by submitting phony bids through fake companies, which he says it has done repeatedly when competitive bidding has been attempted.

Mr. Saakashvili, right, at the Kiev Court of Appeal in January, has taken on the role of a corruption fighter.CreditAlexey Furman for The New York Times

“Nobody is making money from the war,” he said.

Mr. Gladkovskyi said that he had withdrawn from business decisions at his auto company, Bogdan Motors, and that his only knowledge of the ambulances came from visits to the front line, where he saw his vehicles and felt proud that Bogdan was assisting the war effort.

“Corruption,” he added in an interview, “is really very serious, but it is not connected with the system I am running.”

Looming large in this system is Ukroboronprom, a sprawling state conglomerate comprising 130 defense companies and employing around 80,000 people. Dmitro Maksimov, a former employee in Ukroboronprom’s control department, said shady deals in procurement were “the essence” of the conglomerate’s operations.

He recounted how a small screwlike piece of metal purchased by Ukroboronprom for an aircraft repair factory in Lviv had skyrocketed from $50 in early 2014 to nearly $4,000 a year later, after Ukroboronprom mysteriously shifted its business to an outside supplier.

Mr. Maksimov said he had raised this and other inexplicably high prices with his superiors, but was told to drop the matter and was later fired, a dismissal he is challenging in court.

Denys Gurak, the conglomerate’s young deputy director, said he did not know about Mr. Maksimov’s complaints but acknowledged that corruption existed in the defense sector. He added that after years of systematic looting under Mr. Yanukovych — who he said set up Ukroboronprom in 2010 so as to centralize stealing — “it is a miracle we can still do anything.”

“It is a systemic problem for the whole country, not just one sector,” he said. “The system does not work, so people steal. This is why the Soviet Union collapsed.”

He said that Ukroboronprom had itself sent 200 reports to prosecutors about corruption in its ranks but that only two of these had ended up in convictions, and suspended sentences.

The defense conglomerate last week announced, without explanation, the resignation of its director general, Roman Romanov.

Daria Kaleniuk, director of the Anticorruption Action Center, a nongovernmental group in Kiev, said that transparency and accountability are national security issues that must be addressed if Ukraine is not only to create a functioning European-style democracy, but also to hold its own on the battlefield in the east.

They would also help clarify why the military ambulances sold by Mr. Gladkovskyi’s auto company keep breaking down and why they were purchased in the first place.

A report last year by the Independent Defense Anti-Corruption Committee said that each vehicle, whose chassis is Chinese made, had cost the Ukrainian Defense Ministry $32,000, much more than an ambulance imported from China would cost, and could carry only 800 pounds, far too little for a vehicle that would need a driver, armed guards and medical staff.

Valentina Varava, a volunteer who delivers supplies to troops in the east, said the ambulances were designed for urban roads, but “in the military zone, there are no roads.”

She said that as many as 19 of the 50 vehicles so far delivered to the east were out of service. The Ministry of Defense, she added, recently decided to buy 100 more ambulances from Mr. Gladkovskyi’s auto company.

Iulia Mendel contributed reporting.

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0

Military Family Tax 101: Spouses Have To Know How To File Too.

Adrianne Huls[1] , Contributor I write about navigating family and finances of military life. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Shutterstock

Military spouses know how to do many things. Many hard things actually. We run households, pay bills, are excellent at organizing and being an uber for our kids. And there is another thing military spouses are learning more and more about. Being their own boss. Whether it is a small business being run out of a rented location, or from the home office as life chaos swirls around, military spouses are finding flexibility and longevity in making a career they choose to endeavor on. During tax season, concerns on how to file the proper way to file taxes making sure income do not affect the functionality of the military income received by the active duty personnel. Kristen Morgan, a tax professional, gives yet some more vital information to help spouses succeed filing their taxes.

Miltary Spouse Residency Relief Act (MSRRA). Like many things in the military culture, there a lot of unknowns about this bill because it has just really been available. Of course, as I have said before ensuring you have useful information so proper decisions can be made for the best tax file. Here are a few quick facts about the MSRRA.

  • The Military Spouse Residency Relief Act (MSRRA) provides protection to military spouses related to residency, voting, and taxes. When a servicemember leaves his or her home state in accord with military orders, the servicemember’s spouse may retain residency in his or her home state for voting and tax purposes, after relocating from that state to accompany the servicemember. The MSRRA[2] amends the Servicemember Civil Relief Act to include the same privileges to a military servicemember’s spouse.
  • Eligibility factors:
      • Is legally married to the spouse; AND
      • The servicemember is in the state on military orders; AND
      • Currently resides in a state different than the state of his or her domicile; AND
      • Resides in the state solely to live with the servicemember; AND
      • The servicemember is present in the state in compliance with military orders.  A military spouse does not lose his or her status if a servicemember is deployed to a war zone or other location where the military spouse is not allowed to follow. The military treats this as a “travel” or “TDY” situation.
      • The military spouse and the servicemember both are able to claim the same domicile (applicable in some states).

Schedule C. As discussed military spouses are building a business, and a Schedule C may be needed. With this form, the owner reports how much money made or lost for the company.  Understanding how to file a schedule C is essential and attending a SCORE[3] workshop could be helpful in knowing what deductions to capitalize on. SCORE is a small business resource and connection to the Small Business Administration[4] and can assist with up to date information and guidance.

Again this is where a tax professional can also be beneficial. Kelly Erb[5], a Senior Editor for Bankable @ Forbes, is also an excellent source of information. Lastly, doing the research upfront when starting a business helps in the long run. Honestly, filing taxes and staying up to date with all tax laws and changes is very important. Remember you only have a few months to file, but you have the majority of the year to prepare for them.

An interview with

Kristen Morgan

Kristen is a tax professional who helps military families gain information and knowledge and file taxes.

References

  1. ^ Adrianne Huls (www.forbes.com)
  2. ^ MSRRA (militarybenefits.info)
  3. ^ SCORE (www.score.org)
  4. ^ Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov)
  5. ^ Kelly Erb (www.forbes.com)
0

Military Family Tax 101: Spouses Have To Know How To File Too.

Adrianne Huls[1] , Contributor I write about navigating family and finances of military life. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Shutterstock

Military spouses know how to do many things. Many hard things actually. We run households, pay bills, are excellent at organizing and being an uber for our kids. And there is another thing military spouses are learning more and more about. Being their own boss. Whether it is a small business being run out of a rented location, or from the home office as life chaos swirls around, military spouses are finding flexibility and longevity in making a career they choose to endeavor on. During tax season, concerns on how to file the proper way to file taxes making sure income do not affect the functionality of the military income received by the active duty personnel. Kristen Morgan, a tax professional, gives yet some more vital information to help spouses succeed filing their taxes.

Miltary Spouse Residency Relief Act (MSRRA). Like many things in the military culture, there a lot of unknowns about this bill because it has just really been available. Of course, as I have said before ensuring you have useful information so proper decisions can be made for the best tax file. Here are a few quick facts about the MSRRA.

  • The Military Spouse Residency Relief Act (MSRRA) provides protection to military spouses related to residency, voting, and taxes. When a servicemember leaves his or her home state in accord with military orders, the servicemember’s spouse may retain residency in his or her home state for voting and tax purposes, after relocating from that state to accompany the servicemember. The MSRRA[2] amends the Servicemember Civil Relief Act to include the same privileges to a military servicemember’s spouse.
  • Eligibility factors:
      • Is legally married to the spouse; AND
      • The servicemember is in the state on military orders; AND
      • Currently resides in a state different than the state of his or her domicile; AND
      • Resides in the state solely to live with the servicemember; AND
      • The servicemember is present in the state in compliance with military orders.  A military spouse does not lose his or her status if a servicemember is deployed to a war zone or other location where the military spouse is not allowed to follow. The military treats this as a “travel” or “TDY” situation.
      • The military spouse and the servicemember both are able to claim the same domicile (applicable in some states).

Schedule C. As discussed military spouses are building a business, and a Schedule C may be needed. With this form, the owner reports how much money made or lost for the company.  Understanding how to file a schedule C is essential and attending a SCORE[3] workshop could be helpful in knowing what deductions to capitalize on. SCORE is a small business resource and connection to the Small Business Administration[4] and can assist with up to date information and guidance.

Again this is where a tax professional can also be beneficial. Kelly Erb[5], a Senior Editor for Bankable @ Forbes, is also an excellent source of information. Lastly, doing the research upfront when starting a business helps in the long run. Honestly, filing taxes and staying up to date with all tax laws and changes is very important. Remember you only have a few months to file, but you have the majority of the year to prepare for them.

An interview with

Kristen Morgan

Kristen is a tax professional who helps military families gain information and knowledge and file taxes.

References

  1. ^ Adrianne Huls (www.forbes.com)
  2. ^ MSRRA (militarybenefits.info)
  3. ^ SCORE (www.score.org)
  4. ^ Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov)
  5. ^ Kelly Erb (www.forbes.com)
0

Military Family Tax 101: Spouses Have To Know How To File Too.

Adrianne Huls[1] , Contributor I write about navigating family and finances of military life. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Shutterstock

Military spouses know how to do many things. Many hard things actually. We run households, pay bills, are excellent at organizing and being an uber for our kids. And there is another thing military spouses are learning more and more about. Being their own boss. Whether it is a small business being run out of a rented location, or from the home office as life chaos swirls around, military spouses are finding flexibility and longevity in making a career they choose to endeavor on. During tax season, concerns on how to file the proper way to file taxes making sure income do not affect the functionality of the military income received by the active duty personnel. Kristen Morgan, a tax professional, gives yet some more vital information to help spouses succeed filing their taxes.

Miltary Spouse Residency Relief Act (MSRRA). Like many things in the military culture, there a lot of unknowns about this bill because it has just really been available. Of course, as I have said before ensuring you have useful information so proper decisions can be made for the best tax file. Here are a few quick facts about the MSRRA.

  • The Military Spouse Residency Relief Act (MSRRA) provides protection to military spouses related to residency, voting, and taxes. When a servicemember leaves his or her home state in accord with military orders, the servicemember’s spouse may retain residency in his or her home state for voting and tax purposes, after relocating from that state to accompany the servicemember. The MSRRA[2] amends the Servicemember Civil Relief Act to include the same privileges to a military servicemember’s spouse.
  • Eligibility factors:
      • Is legally married to the spouse; AND
      • The servicemember is in the state on military orders; AND
      • Currently resides in a state different than the state of his or her domicile; AND
      • Resides in the state solely to live with the servicemember; AND
      • The servicemember is present in the state in compliance with military orders.  A military spouse does not lose his or her status if a servicemember is deployed to a war zone or other location where the military spouse is not allowed to follow. The military treats this as a “travel” or “TDY” situation.
      • The military spouse and the servicemember both are able to claim the same domicile (applicable in some states).

Schedule C. As discussed military spouses are building a business, and a Schedule C may be needed. With this form, the owner reports how much money made or lost for the company.  Understanding how to file a schedule C is essential and attending a SCORE[3] workshop could be helpful in knowing what deductions to capitalize on. SCORE is a small business resource and connection to the Small Business Administration[4] and can assist with up to date information and guidance.

Again this is where a tax professional can also be beneficial. Kelly Erb[5], a Senior Editor for Bankable @ Forbes, is also an excellent source of information. Lastly, doing the research upfront when starting a business helps in the long run. Honestly, filing taxes and staying up to date with all tax laws and changes is very important. Remember you only have a few months to file, but you have the majority of the year to prepare for them.

An interview with

Kristen Morgan

Kristen is a tax professional who helps military families gain information and knowledge and file taxes.

References

  1. ^ Adrianne Huls (www.forbes.com)
  2. ^ MSRRA (militarybenefits.info)
  3. ^ SCORE (www.score.org)
  4. ^ Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov)
  5. ^ Kelly Erb (www.forbes.com)
0

Military Family Tax 101: Spouses Have To Know How To File Too.

Adrianne Huls[1] , Contributor I write about navigating family and finances of military life. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Shutterstock

Military spouses know how to do many things. Many hard things actually. We run households, pay bills, are excellent at organizing and being an uber for our kids. And there is another thing military spouses are learning more and more about. Being their own boss. Whether it is a small business being run out of a rented location, or from the home office as life chaos swirls around, military spouses are finding flexibility and longevity in making a career they choose to endeavor on. During tax season, concerns on how to file the proper way to file taxes making sure income do not affect the functionality of the military income received by the active duty personnel. Kristen Morgan, a tax professional, gives yet some more vital information to help spouses succeed filing their taxes.

Miltary Spouse Residency Relief Act (MSRRA). Like many things in the military culture, there a lot of unknowns about this bill because it has just really been available. Of course, as I have said before ensuring you have useful information so proper decisions can be made for the best tax file. Here are a few quick facts about the MSRRA.

  • The Military Spouse Residency Relief Act (MSRRA) provides protection to military spouses related to residency, voting, and taxes. When a servicemember leaves his or her home state in accord with military orders, the servicemember’s spouse may retain residency in his or her home state for voting and tax purposes, after relocating from that state to accompany the servicemember. The MSRRA[2] amends the Servicemember Civil Relief Act to include the same privileges to a military servicemember’s spouse.
  • Eligibility factors:
      • Is legally married to the spouse; AND
      • The servicemember is in the state on military orders; AND
      • Currently resides in a state different than the state of his or her domicile; AND
      • Resides in the state solely to live with the servicemember; AND
      • The servicemember is present in the state in compliance with military orders.  A military spouse does not lose his or her status if a servicemember is deployed to a war zone or other location where the military spouse is not allowed to follow. The military treats this as a “travel” or “TDY” situation.
      • The military spouse and the servicemember both are able to claim the same domicile (applicable in some states).

Schedule C. As discussed military spouses are building a business, and a Schedule C may be needed. With this form, the owner reports how much money made or lost for the company.  Understanding how to file a schedule C is essential and attending a SCORE[3] workshop could be helpful in knowing what deductions to capitalize on. SCORE is a small business resource and connection to the Small Business Administration[4] and can assist with up to date information and guidance.

Again this is where a tax professional can also be beneficial. Kelly Erb[5], a Senior Editor for Bankable @ Forbes, is also an excellent source of information. Lastly, doing the research upfront when starting a business helps in the long run. Honestly, filing taxes and staying up to date with all tax laws and changes is very important. Remember you only have a few months to file, but you have the majority of the year to prepare for them.

An interview with

Kristen Morgan

Kristen is a tax professional who helps military families gain information and knowledge and file taxes.

References

  1. ^ Adrianne Huls (www.forbes.com)
  2. ^ MSRRA (militarybenefits.info)
  3. ^ SCORE (www.score.org)
  4. ^ Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov)
  5. ^ Kelly Erb (www.forbes.com)
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Military Family Tax 101: Spouses Have To Know How To File Too.

Adrianne Huls[1] , Contributor I write about navigating family and finances of military life. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

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Military spouses know how to do many things. Many hard things actually. We run households, pay bills, are excellent at organizing and being an uber for our kids. And there is another thing military spouses are learning more and more about. Being their own boss. Whether it is a small business being run out of a rented location, or from the home office as life chaos swirls around, military spouses are finding flexibility and longevity in making a career they choose to endeavor on. During tax season, concerns on how to file the proper way to file taxes making sure income do not affect the functionality of the military income received by the active duty personnel. Kristen Morgan, a tax professional, gives yet some more vital information to help spouses succeed filing their taxes.

Miltary Spouse Residency Relief Act (MSRRA). Like many things in the military culture, there a lot of unknowns about this bill because it has just really been available. Of course, as I have said before ensuring you have useful information so proper decisions can be made for the best tax file. Here are a few quick facts about the MSRRA.

  • The Military Spouse Residency Relief Act (MSRRA) provides protection to military spouses related to residency, voting, and taxes. When a servicemember leaves his or her home state in accord with military orders, the servicemember’s spouse may retain residency in his or her home state for voting and tax purposes, after relocating from that state to accompany the servicemember. The MSRRA[2] amends the Servicemember Civil Relief Act to include the same privileges to a military servicemember’s spouse.
  • Eligibility factors:
      • Is legally married to the spouse; AND
      • The servicemember is in the state on military orders; AND
      • Currently resides in a state different than the state of his or her domicile; AND
      • Resides in the state solely to live with the servicemember; AND
      • The servicemember is present in the state in compliance with military orders.  A military spouse does not lose his or her status if a servicemember is deployed to a war zone or other location where the military spouse is not allowed to follow. The military treats this as a “travel” or “TDY” situation.
      • The military spouse and the servicemember both are able to claim the same domicile (applicable in some states).

Schedule C. As discussed military spouses are building a business, and a Schedule C may be needed. With this form, the owner reports how much money made or lost for the company.  Understanding how to file a schedule C is essential and attending a SCORE[3] workshop could be helpful in knowing what deductions to capitalize on. SCORE is a small business resource and connection to the Small Business Administration[4] and can assist with up to date information and guidance.

Again this is where a tax professional can also be beneficial. Kelly Erb[5], a Senior Editor for Bankable @ Forbes, is also an excellent source of information. Lastly, doing the research upfront when starting a business helps in the long run. Honestly, filing taxes and staying up to date with all tax laws and changes is very important. Remember you only have a few months to file, but you have the majority of the year to prepare for them.

An interview with

Kristen Morgan

Kristen is a tax professional who helps military families gain information and knowledge and file taxes.

References

  1. ^ Adrianne Huls (www.forbes.com)
  2. ^ MSRRA (militarybenefits.info)
  3. ^ SCORE (www.score.org)
  4. ^ Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov)
  5. ^ Kelly Erb (www.forbes.com)