How to File Taxes from Jail or Prison

If you or someone you know is incarcerated and has a stream of income, then the IRS requires that the incarcerated person file a tax return. Filing taxes from jail or prison can be challenging, but there are things you can do to make the process easier. Here are tips for those in prison, and their loved ones on the outside who help file the taxes.

If the person filing taxes from jail is married, the spouse outside may file jointly. Keep good records on the income sources of the person in jail, such as residuals, royalties, contributions, or even small business revenue.

Note that people in jail and their spouses can file either jointly or separately, however, the spouse on the outside cannot claim the prisoner as a dependent. Spouses on the outside can file as the head of the household.

If the person in jail has a lawyer, the lawyer can prepare your taxes. You will have to pay an extra fee since this service is outside a defense lawyer's normal duties. It is worth paying a professional to prepare your taxes if you have bought or sold a home or business. You do not want to compound a prison sentence with failure to pay taxes or properly report income.

Many people in prison grant power of attorney to either their spouses or other trusted family members. A person with power of attorney can do many things on behalf of a person in jail, including file taxes. Check with the law library or legal canter in your prison to learn how power of attorney can be set up.

Be honest and disclose all of your sources of income to the IRS. Also make sure that you start the process early; this helps your tax preparer obtain all of the necessary information. If your prison sponsors any tax workshops, be sure to attend so you can get your questions answered.

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