Married taxpayers can choose between filing a joint tax return or a separate tax return. The Married Filing Jointly (MFJ) filing status provides more tax benefits than filing separate returns, but taxpayers will need to weigh the pros and cons and decide for themselves which is the best filing status.
Married taxpayers can choose to file jointly if they are:(1) considered legally married on the last day of the year, and (2) both you and your spouse agree to file a joint tax return and both sign the return.
Problems usually arise in a military climate when the non-military spouse wants to file a joint-return but is unable to have their spouse available (due to deployment, on a ship, etc). In order to sign for an absent spouse depends on a where the Servicemember spouse is located.
• If the Servicemember spouse is unable to sign the return because he or she is serving in a combat zone (such as the Persian Gulf area, Yugoslavia, or Afghanistan), you do NOT need a power of attorney! That spouse can sign for their absent spouse. All they have to do is attach a signed statement to their tax return that says that their spouse is serving in a combat zone. For more information on special tax rules for persons who are serving in a combat zone, please visit the nearest Military VITA Tax office for assistance.
• Otherwise, if your spouse is not serving in a combat zone, you will need a valid power of attorney giving you permission to sign for your spouse. According to the IRS, you can use either:
o An IRS Power of Attorney Form 2848 filled out and signed, or
o A Special Power of Attorney that specifically states the spouse is able to sign the person’s 2010 tax return.
Both an IRS Form 2848 and Special Power of Attorney can be obtained at a Navy Legal Service Office nearest you or at http://www.irs.gov.
For more information on Powers of Attorney and Form 2848, contact the Naval Legal Service Office at 360.396.6003.
You can also get tax updates on Naval Legal Service Office Northwest’s Facebook page.
POC: LT Maggie Villagran, Navy Northwest Regional Tax Officer, 360.396.6003, DSN 744.