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2003 Military Tax Guide (For 2002 Tax Year)
Filing Returns - Signing Returns
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Generally, you must sign your return. However, if you are overseas or incapacitated, you can grant a power of attorney to an agent to file and sign your return.

A power of attorney can be granted by filing Form 2848. These forms are available at your nearest legal assistance office. While other power of attorney forms may be used, they must contain the information required by Form 2848.

In Part I of the form, you must indicate that you are granting the power to sign the return, the tax form number, and the tax year for which the form is being filed. Attach the power of attorney to the tax return. If you are acting on behalf of someone serving in a combat zone, see Filing Returns for Combat Zone/Qualified Hazardous Duty Area Participants, later.

Joint returns. Generally, joint returns must be signed by both spouses. However, when a spouse is overseas, in a combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area, in a missing status, incapacitated, or deceased, a power of attorney may be needed to file a joint return.

Spouse overseas. If one spouse is overseas on military duty, there are two options when filing a joint return. One spouse can prepare the return, sign it, and send it to the other spouse to sign early enough so that it can be filed by the due date. Or, the spouse who expects to be overseas on the due date of the return can file Form 2848 specifically designating that the spouse who remains in the United States can sign the return for the absent spouse.

Spouse in combat zone/qualified hazardous duty area. If your spouse is unable to sign the return because he or she is serving in a combat zone/qualified hazardous duty area or is performing qualifying service outside of a combat zone/qualified hazardous duty area, such as Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf Area, or Yugoslavia, or a qualified hazardous duty area (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Macedonia), and you do not have a power of attorney or other statement, you can sign for your spouse. Attach a signed statement to your return that explains that your spouse is serving in a combat zone.

Spouse in missing status. The spouse of a member of the Armed Forces who is in a missing status in a combat zone can still file a joint return. A joint return can be filed for any year beginning not more than 2 years after the end of the combat zone activities. A joint return filed under these conditions is valid even if it is later determined that the missing spouse died before the year covered by the return.

Spouse incapacitated. If your spouse cannot sign because of disease or injury and he or she tells you to sign, you can sign your spouse’s name in the proper space on the return, followed by the words “by your name, Husband (or Wife).” Be sure to sign your name in the space provided for your signature. Attach a dated statement, signed by you, to your return. The statement should include the form number of the return you are filing, the tax year, the reason your spouse could not sign, and that your spouse has agreed to your signing for him or her.

Spouse died during the year. If one spouse died during the year and the surviving spouse did not remarry before the end of the year, the surviving spouse can file a joint return for that year writing in the signature area “Filing as surviving spouse.” If an executor or administrator has been appointed, both he or she and the surviving spouse must sign the return filed for the decedent.

 
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Above Information Extracted from IRS Publication #3, Armed Forces Tax Guide

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