AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Thousands of Texas National Guard troops may have to pay for a mistake they didn’t make, which could cost them hundreds or thousands of dollars in federal taxes.
The Texas Military Department (TMD) said a payroll error will force Operation Lone Star guardsmen on the border to pay back federal taxes that never came out of their paychecks.
We spoke to one soldier who wants accountability. He didn’t want to be identified for his safety, but we did verify who he is through his pay stubs from Operation Lone Star.
The soldier we spoke with said he feels he went into the mission blind.
“They [said], ‘Hey… some of us might go out to the border for up to four months,'” the soldier said.
The four months turned into nearly a year for this soldier.
“[Operation Lone Star] was rough, you know, overnight shifts,” the soldier said. “Just seeing the inhumanity of it all, people walking across barefoot … nearly naked with their kids, and they’re all starving and just begging for assistance.”
While on the border from October 2021 to August 2022, the guardsman told us he didn’t get a paystub for several months.
“Once we got pay stubs, they simply had our net amount listed on there and nothing else,” he said.
TMD admits the payroll error. It said the checks withheld too little in federal taxes. TMD said the mistake will impact 96% of its service members.
“There’s nothing else that’s been released to the soldiers as far as I know,” the soldier said. “It’s just a lot of all of us … hitting each other’s phone line and saying, ‘Hey, it looks like we’re going to have some issues.’ Don’t know what they are yet.”
TMD told the Texas Tribune soldiers will start getting paid once a month instead of twice to solve the problem, starting in January. It’s not clear how long that will last.
“I just bought a house … I’m expecting my first child,” the soldier said. “Now I have to budget for an unknown amount.”
“They need to explain from beginning to end what happened. At the end, they need to tell us next steps that they’re taking … to simply tell us what we’re going to owe,” the soldier said.
We reached out for an update from TMD on Wednesday but haven’t heard back yet. This story will be updated with any additional responses.