Your marital status on Dec. 31 typically determines how you should file your federal income taxes. Married couples should file using the married filing jointly or married filing separately status. If you were married but your spouse was deported, you can still claim the married filing jointly filing status, but your spouse's inability to sign the return makes matters more difficult.
Spouse Out of the Country
In most cases, when a taxpayer files using the married filing jointly status, both spouses must sign the tax return -- even when one taxpayer is out of the country. There are certain exceptions to this rule, including serving in the military, incapacitation and death. If your spouse was deported, these exceptions do not apply, leaving you two options. You can mail the tax return to your spouse requesting his signature before the tax due date or arrange for your spouse to sign Form 2848, which gives you power of attorney.
Power of Attorney
Power of attorney allows you to act as a representative for your deported spouse for tax-reporting purposes. When your spouse signs Form 2848, he grants you the right to sign his tax return and speak to the Internal Revenue Service on his behalf. To avoid late fees and penalties, you must have the form prepared and signed before the tax due date, which is typically April 15.
Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
Because your spouse is not a citizen or resident alien of the United States, your spouse must have an individual taxpayer identification number to file income taxes. If your spouse did not obtain an ITIN before his deportation, you must include Form W-7 when you file your income taxes. An ITIN is a tax-processing number that the IRS uses to identify your spouse. If you obtain power of attorney before filing your taxes, you can complete and sign Form W-7 for your spouse.
Not having the ability to obtain power of attorney might prevent you from filing a tax return jointly with your spouse. The IRS allows you the right to treat your spouse as a resident or elect to file separately. If you file separately, you will not be able to claim an exemption for your spouse and the IRS disqualifies you for several tax credits. If you have dependents, however, such as children living at home, you can file using the head of household status, which grants you a higher standard deduction and qualifies you to receive tax credits that you normally cannot claim when you file separately.
Angela M. Wheeland specializes in topics related to taxation, technology, gaming and criminal law. She has contributed to several websites and serves as the lead content editor for a construction-related website. Wheeland holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and criminal justice. She has owned and operated her own income tax-preparation business since 2006.