Under limited circumstances, you may give another person the authority to sign your tax return by issuing a power of attorney. Another person may sign your federal tax return if you are suffering from an injury or disease; if you are continuously absent from the United States for a period of at least 60 days before the return is due; or if you request permission from the IRS for another person to sign your return for good cause and the IRS grants this permission. A tax return signed on your behalf by another person may be invalid if the return is not accompanied by an appropriate power of attorney.
When a Power of Attorney May Be Useful
A power of attorney is useful when it will be difficult or impossible for you to sign your tax return yourself. You should consider granting a power of attorney to sign your return if you plan to be traveling abroad during tax filing season; if you are in the military and are deployed -- or expect to be deployed -- overseas on an unaccompanied tour; if you have an incapacitating illness or disease; or if you will be unable to sign your return for any other reason.
When one spouse is unable to sign a joint return, the return may be signed on that spouse's behalf by the other spouse if appropriate authorization to do so is attached to the return. You do not need a power of attorney to sign a federal tax return on behalf of your minor child.
A simple way to grant another person the power to sign your federal tax return is to file IRS Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative. Form 2848 is available on the IRS website, IRS.gov. A Spanish language version of the form is available as well. Data typed into the online form may be saved.
Creating Power of Attorney
You may create your own power of attorney rather than using IRS Form 2848 for this purpose. A power of attorney created by a taxpayer must contain a clear authorization for the other person to sign the return. It must also include the taxpayer's identifying information, the name and address of the person being authorized to sign the return, the type of tax return and the tax year to which the authorization applies, and the taxpayer's signature with a date.
When one spouse is physically unable by reason of disease or injury to sign a joint return, the other spouse may -- with the oral consent of the incapacitated spouse -- sign the incapacitated spouse’s name on the return followed by the words ‘‘By __ Husband (or Wife).’’ The signing spouse must also attach a statement indicating the name of the return being filed and the taxable year, as well as the reason for the inability of the spouse who is incapacitated to sign the return. It must also state that the incapacitated spouse has consented to the signing of the return.
Filing Form 2848
Form 2848 is filled out by entering your name, address and Social Security number, the name of the person being authorized to sign your tax return, and the year or years for which that person is authorized to sign the return. In addition, a statement of the condition or circumstance that permits the granting of the power of attorney is required. Form 2848 must be signed by the person making the authorization.
Complete guidance for filling out and filing Form 2848 may be found in “Instructions to Form 2848,” which is available on the IRS website.
David Altman holds a J.D. from Boston University Law School. He has more than 30 years of experience in legal writing, editing, research and analysis. Altman has contributed to publications such as "Tax Research Consultant," "Tax Return Manual" and "Tax Practice Guides" for Wolters Kluwer.