Soldiers from Texas’ Operation Lone Star owe federal taxes after internal error

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Thousands of Texas National Guard soldiers may have to pay for a mistake they didn’t make that could cost them hundreds or thousands of dollars in federal taxes.

The Texas Military Department (TMD) made a payroll error, and Border Patrol agents for Operation Lone Star will have to pay back federal taxes that never came out of their paychecks.

We spoke to a soldier who wants accountability. He did not want to be identified for safety reasons, but we verified who he was through his Lone Star pay slips.

The soldier we spoke to said he felt like he went into the mission blind.

“They [said] “Hey… some of us might be out at the border in four months,” said the soldier.

The four months turned into almost a year for this soldier.

“[Operation Lone Star] it was rough, you know, night shifts,” the soldier said. “Just seeing the inhumanity of it all, people walking around barefoot … almost naked with their children, all starving and just begging for help.”

While at the border from October 2021 to August 2022, the guard told us he was not paid for several months.

“Once we got pay slips, they just put our net amount on there and nothing else,” he said.

TMD acknowledges the payroll error. He said the checks withheld too little federal taxes. TMD said the error would affect 96% of its service members.

“There is nothing else that has been provided to the soldiers as far as I know,” said the soldier. “It’s just a lot of all of us … hitting the phone line and saying, ‘Hey, it looks like we’re going to have some trouble.'” I still don’t know what they are.

TMD told the Texas Tribune troopers will start getting paid once a month instead of twice to fix the problem starting in January. It is not clear how long this will last.

“I just bought a house… I’m expecting my first child,” the soldier said. “Now I have to budget an unknown amount.”

“They have to explain from beginning to end what happened. Finally, they have to tell us the next steps they’re taking … just tell us what we’re going to owe,” the soldier said.

We reached out to TMD for an update as early as Wednesday, but have yet to hear back. This story will be updated with any additional responses.

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