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Deployment offers tax options; not filing not one of them

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFPN) -- Mobilized Air Force reservists deploying overseas are not automatically excused from filing their federal income tax return, according to Air Force Reserve Command staff judge advocate officials here.

Deploying reservists have four options when it comes to filing taxes. They can file before they leave, authorize a spouse or trusted friend to sign and file for them, have a non-military or non-deploying spouse sign and file a joint tax return on their behalf, or use an extension if authorized.

If reservists have not received their Form W-2 in the mail before deploying, they can access it online by using a personal identification number via "My Pay" on the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Web site at https://emss.dfas.mil/mypay.asp.

Most active-duty locations offer a tax-assistance program. Servicemembers can electronically file their returns and opt for direct deposit of any refund into their checking accounts.

If a reservist wants to allow someone else to sign and file his return, he must: be absent from the United States for at least 60 days before the due date for filing the return, be unable to sign the return because of disease or injury, or get permission from the Internal Revenue Service office in the area to have another person file on his behalf.

Reservists can authorize their agents to sign and file by using a special power of attorney or by using IRS Form 2848, which is available on the Web at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f2848.pdf.

If filing a joint return, a special power of attorney or IRS Form 2848 is not required. Married couples filing separate returns cannot use this option.

Deployed military people can usually take advantage of a filing extension for service in a combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area. Before claiming these extensions, reservists should check with a tax preparer or a legal assistance officer to ensure that the area where they are deployed has been declared a combat zone or qualified hazardous-duty area.

To find out what a state requires when reservists are deployed, they should consult with a tax preparer or a legal assistance officer. Some states have rules that are similar to the federal rules. (Courtesy of AFRC News Service)

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