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Country: United States.

Topic: Personal income tax.

Filing status: Married filing jointly.

How late filing: Approximately three years and ten months late.

The IRS provides instructions for requesting a tax refund when filing a tax return more than three years late, due to disability:

Unless otherwise provided in IRS forms and instructions, the following statements are to be submitted with a claim for credit or refund of tax to claim financial disability for purposes of § 6511(h).

(1) a written statement by a physician (as defined in § 1861(r)(1) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1395x(r)), qualified to make the determination, that sets forth:

(a) the name and a description of the taxpayer’s physical or mental impairment;

(b) the physician’s medical opinion that the physical or mental impairment prevented the taxpayer from managing the taxpayer’s financial affairs;

(c) the physician’s medical opinion that the physical or mental impairment was or can be expected to result in death, or that it has lasted (or can be expected to last) for a continuous period of not less than 12 months;

(d) to the best of the physician’s knowledge, the specific time period during which the taxpayer was prevented by such physical or mental impairment from managing the taxpayer’s financial affairs; and

(e) the following certification, signed by the physician:

I hereby certify that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the above representations are true, correct, and complete.

(2) A written statement by the person signing the claim for credit or refund that no person, including the taxpayer's spouse, was authorized to act on behalf of the taxpayer in financial matters during the period described in paragraph (1)(d) of this section. Alternatively, if a person was authorized to act on behalf of the taxpayer in financial matters during any part of the period described in paragraph (1)(d), the beginning and ending dates of the period of time the person was so authorized.

I don't understand the part about the spouse. Pardon me if this is a stupid question, but is it necessary to show why the spouse was not able to file during the specified time either?

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All the first part of it says is that they want a statement. That statement is supposed to be about authorization, not ability.

I wish I could predict what they would do with that statement. If you tell the IRS that your spouse isn't authorized to act on your behalf, it would probably help to say why. Separation, or something like that? They're not asking why nobody was able to file for you, they're asking why nobody was authorized to do so.

The second part of it described an alternative: Provide the dates, within the period of your disability, during which another person was in fact authorized to file on your behalf.

It seems like they're prepared to be told that someone was authorized and didn't act.

So, just tell the truth either way: If nobody was authorized, just say so. If you're married, saying why couldn't hurt. If someone was authorized, say that and leave it at that.

This answer is simply based on reading the instructions and interpreting them literally. I don't have citations which say "those instructions mean what they say", and I don't expect anyone can locate a convincing citation which says "those instructions don't mean what they say".

  • One reason is that the spouse is from another country and feels helpless with US tax documents. But we can't figure out if the rules actually require the couple to say anything about the spouse. – aparente001 Jan 27 '18 at 1:44

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