What is the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act?
The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act was signed into law on November 11, 2009. The law makes changes to the tax code and voter requirements of the spouses of members of the United States Armed Forces. The Act allows the spouses of military personnel who are stationed in another state, away from their domicile, to claim the tax benefits associated with their domiciled state instead of having to file tax returns for both the domiciled state and the residing state. The Act applies to income from self-employment as well as employee income. It also applies to personal property. The Act does not affect the disposition of real property. Issues regarding real property, such as houses and land, are considered to be under the jurisdiction in which the real property is situated in.
Why was the Military Spouses Residency Act passed?
Under the previous federal law spouses of military personnel were required to file tax returns for the state in which they were domiciled and also in the state where they resided with their active duty spouse. The law was enacted to make it easier for spouses of military personnel and provide them with the same tax benefits as their military personnel spouses.
What are the requirements of the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act?
In order for a the spouse of a member of the armed forces to be eligible to receive military spouse status the spouse must be living in a state other than that which is designated as his/her domicile; the spouse has relocated to that location for the sole reason of staying with the spouse; the military spouse is living in the non-domicile state as per requirements of his or her active duty.
WHAT IS A DOMICILE?
There is a difference between a domicile and a residence. An individual can have more than one residence but only one domicile. A domicile is the place where an individual legally resides or has the intention of residing in the near future. This is to say that if an individual has his or her primary residence in New Jersey and has a summer house in Montana then he or she has two residences. However, because New Jersey is where the individual maintains a permanent residence it is his or her domicile.
The designation of a domicile is not always cut and dry. A domicile is created when that person leaves his or her former domicile and embarks on entering a new domicile. The individual will be designated as having a new domicile when he or she enters the new state with the intention of living there permanently.
Intention is not bases solely on the opinion of the individual's statements. When courts consider domicile of an individual they look at bank records, drivers licenses, tax returns, job locations and a number of other factors.
What must be provided to the government to by a military spouse?
In order to qualify for the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act a spouse must offer documentation that specifically confirms the individual is a spouse of a member of the United States Armed Forces who is living outside of his or her domicile for the sole purpose of complying with military requirements. These documents include:
• Spouses military ID card
• Serviceman's Leave and Earnings Statement
• Serviceman's W-2
• Spouse's drivers license
• Spouse's voter registration card
• Marriage license or divorce decree
• Declaration of permanent state of residency
What are the benefits of the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act?
The main benefit associated with the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act is the option of choosing a domicile. When a serviceman is relocated to a military designated location outside the stat of the individuals domicile the spouse of that serviceman has the option of relocating to that location and taking advantage of that states tax laws. However, the spouse has this as an option. If he or she wishes they may still claim the domicile as the only designated state which should be privy to state income taxes. In the alternative, the spouse may choose to adopt the serviceman's stationed location as the new domicile.
There are many things to consider when contemplating this option. Every state has different laws affecting taxation, divorce, child custody, personal property rights, in-state tuition for state universities and a plethora of other regulations that make it advantageous to change one's domicile.
The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act also allows spouses who relocate to their serviceman spouses stationed residency to maintain voter rights in the domiciled state of the spouse. This means that in order for the spouse to be able to vote he or she will be required to re-enter the domiciled state or send in an absentee ballot.
Currently there are 9 states in the Union that do not have state income taxes. Those are: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Therefore it is beneficial for the spouse of a serviceman to retain this as his or her domicile.
What to do if you are a spouse of a serviceman?
If you are the spouse of a member of the United States Armed Forces it is beneficial to discuss the issue of the Military Spouses Residence Relief Act with a lawyer or someone provided by the military to counsel on these matters. Changing a domicile can have far reaching and long lasting effects when concerning tax and property rights. It is important to speak with someone before any decisions are made.
One Hundred Eleventh Congress
United States of America
AT THE FIRST SESSION
Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday,
the sixth day of January, two thousand and nine
To amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to guarantee the equity of spouses of military personnel with regard to matters of residency, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ‘Military Spouses Residency Relief Act’.
SEC. 2. GUARANTEE OF RESIDENCY FOR SPOUSES OF MILITARY PERSONNEL FOR VOTING PURPOSES.
(a) In General- Section 705 of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. App. 595) is amended–
(1) by striking ‘For’ and inserting the following:
‘(a) In General- For’;
(2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:
‘(b) Spouses- For the purposes of voting for any Federal office (as defined in section 301 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 431)) or a State or local office, a person who is absent from a State because the person is accompanying the person’s spouse who is absent from that same State in compliance with military or naval orders shall not, solely by reason of that absence–
‘(1) be deemed to have lost a residence or domicile in that State, without regard to whether or not the person intends to return to that State;
‘(2) be deemed to have acquired a residence or domicile in any other State; or
‘(3) be deemed to have become a resident in or a resident of any other State.’; and
(3) in the section heading, by inserting ‘and spouses of military personnel’ before the period at the end.
(b) Clerical Amendment- The table of contents in section 1(b) of such Act (50 U.S.C. App. 501) is amended by striking the item relating to section 705 and inserting the following new item:
‘Sec. 705. Guarantee of residency for military personnel and spouses of military personnel.’.
(c) Application- Subsection (b) of section 705 of such Act (50 U.S.C. App. 595), as added by subsection (a) of this section, shall apply with respect to absences from States described in such subsection (b) on or after the date of the enactment of this Act, regardless of the date of the military or naval order concerned.
SEC. 3. DETERMINATION FOR TAX PURPOSES OF RESIDENCE OF SPOUSES OF MILITARY PERSONNEL.
(a) In General- Section 511 of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. App. 571) is amended–
(1) in subsection (a)–
(A) by striking ‘A servicemember’ and inserting the following:
‘(1) IN GENERAL- A servicemember’; and
(B) by adding at the end the following:
‘(2) SPOUSES- A spouse of a servicemember shall neither lose nor acquire a residence or domicile for purposes of taxation with respect to the person, personal property, or income of the spouse by reason of being absent or present in any tax jurisdiction of the United States solely to be with the servicemember in compliance with the servicemember’s military orders if the residence or domicile, as the case may be, is the same for the servicemember and the spouse.’;
(2) by redesignating subsections (c), (d), (e), and (f) as subsections (d), (e), (f), and (g), respectively;
(3) by inserting after subsection (b) the following new subsection:
‘(c) Income of a Military Spouse- Income for services performed by the spouse of a servicemember shall not be deemed to be income for services performed or from sources within a tax jurisdiction of the United States if the spouse is not a resident or domiciliary of the jurisdiction in which the income is earned because the spouse is in the jurisdiction solely to be with the servicemember serving in compliance with military orders.’; and
(4) in subsection (d), as redesignated by paragraph (2)–
(A) in paragraph (1), by inserting ‘or the spouse of a servicemember’ after ‘The personal property of a servicemember’; and
(B) in paragraph (2), by inserting ‘or the spouse’s’ after ‘servicemember’s’.
(b) Application- Subsections (a)(2) and (c) of section 511 of such Act (50 U.S.C. App. 571), as added by subsection (a) of this section, and the amendments made to such section 511 by subsection (a)(4) of this section, shall apply with respect to any return of State or local income tax filed for any taxable year beginning with the taxable year that includes the date of the enactment of this Act.
SEC. 4. SUSPENSION OF LAND RIGHTS RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT FOR SPOUSES OF MILITARY PERSONNEL.
(a) In General- Section 508 of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. App. 568) is amended in subsection (b) by inserting ‘or the spouse of such servicemember’ after ‘a servicemember in military service’.
(b) Application- The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to servicemembers in military service (as defined in section 101 of such Act (50 U.S.C. App. 511)) on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.
Historically, American women have served the military primarily as nurses, medics, and other non-combat support roles. While women have worked in combat zones in every war since the Revolutionary War, they have not been enlisted as combat troops. The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that it is suing the Department of Defense in order to end the policy of sex discrimination of combat troops.
If the courts ruled in the ACLU's favor, this would represent perhaps the largest shift ever of women's military roles in the United States. While asking for women to be represented in combat roles even a decade ago might have been viewed as a major issue, several key factors have changed since that time.
One of those factors is that today's Supreme Court has three women, not just two, and those women have been highly influential in court decisions. Another is the end of the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy, which some felt reflected an increasing willingness for the military to liberalize its attitudes about both gender and sexuality.
Historically, intermediate scrutiny has been applied to claims of gender discrimination. This means that if there is an important governmental interest in having the discriminatory law, it can still be applied constitutionally (for example, sex-segregated bathrooms are generally assumed to be important from a public safety perspective). The U.S. government has so far kept women out of combat roles by saying that morale would be affected by women's presence as combat troops.
However, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have changed how the military handles women in combat zones, according to the ACLU's lawsuit. Today, women who are classified as non-combat troops are still likely to fight in combat zones, and many are wounded or killed while engaging in combat.
The real effect of the men-only combat policy, according to the plaintiffs, is to exclude women from receiving higher pay for combat duty and assignments that could lead to faster promotions. Many women in the military today, according to the suit, would be able to advance more quickly in their military career and achieve more if they were allowed to take assignments that included combat roles.
Several of the women currently suing through the ACLU are Purple Heart recipients, meaning that they have been injured in a military conflict. According to these women, the prohibition on female combat troops is outdated and keeps women from excelling in the military, while keeping commanding officers from being able to use the best troops for the job without regard to gender.
Although it may take some time to wind through the court system, this lawsuit could prompt President Obama to request a change in the Pentagon's policies. Earlier this year, the Department of Defense stopped prohibiting women from being assigned to roles that would require them to live with men.
The Department of Defense has so far declined to comment on the case, and says that it reserves the right to open more jobs to women in the military.
Sources: aclu.org, uscourts.gov, usnews.com
Assisting soldiers in the long road of recovery is what the Department of Veterans' Affairs is all about. While the vast majority of male soldiers are traumatized by witnessing war and devastation, female soldiers have another source of major trauma to deal with: military sexual trauma, which occurs to devastating numbers of young women in every branch of the United States armed services today.
The figures for sexual harassment and assault in the military are staggering: up to 80 percent of American servicewomen have experienced sexual harassment from other members of the military, while approximately 3 in 10 have been raped by a fellow soldier. 10 percent of military servicewomen have experienced multiple sexual assaults during their service, while 5 percent have been gang raped.
Reports of sexual assault and military sexual trauma have increased significantly since reporting changes allowed victims to report assaults confidentially. The Department of Veterans' Affairs has responded to this increase by significantly expanding its training for staff regarding military sexual assault.
All clinical staff at the VA are given training about how military sexual trauma can affect veterans and the current established treatment protocols for treating PTSD caused by incidents of military sexual trauma. All patients at VA clinics who are seen for health services—even those unrelated to sexual assault—are now asked if they have ever been the victim of military sexual trauma. Those who say they have been are given information about special VA services that may be able to help them.
Because post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is the single most common ailment affecting United States soldiers, the VA has made great strides in lessening the effects of PTSD with evidence-based treatments. Today, there are several different outpatient and inpatient programs run by the VA for soldiers who are still suffering from past traumas and need a safe space to receive treatment and talk to mental health professionals.
The VA stresses in its publicity documents for these services that they are not dependent on having filed a complaint at the time of the harassment or assault. Even if a service member was harassed without reporting it to anyone, they will still be eligible for military sexual trauma treatment. What's more, with no time limits, even soldiers whose trauma took place many years ago can seek appropriate psychological and psychiatric treatment.
For women who are concerned about the presence of men at inpatient post traumatic stress disorder groups (a relatively common issue, since the huge majority of sexual violence in the U.S. military involves men assaulting women), the VA offers single sex facilities for some of its inpatient programs. Sleeping areas are separated regardless of the inpatient program a soldier enrolls in, making it possible for survivors of rape and sexual assault to rest easier.
Even veterans who would not otherwise be eligible for other types of VA services are often eligible for services relating to military sexual trauma. This is one of the many steps the military and VA are taking to help curb rape in the armed forces and treat assault survivors appropriately.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has recently announced that Fidel Ignacio Cisneros of Lynnwood, Washington was arrested and sentenced to 46 months in federal prison and two years of supervised release after he violated the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
Cisneros was a soldier in the U.S. Army and conducted multiple missions in Iraq and other hostile areas. ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) found that Cisneros stole the following items and more:
• three Acquired Tactical Illuminating Laser Aimers (Atilla-200 lasers)
• an ACOG rifle scope
He brought these items back with him to Orlando without permission from the Department of Defense.
After the items were smuggled to the United States, Cisneros put one of the Atilla-200 lasers up for auction with his eBay account, sold the device for $3,200, and shipped the device to Tokyo. Category XII(b) of the U.S. Munitions List under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations restricts the exportation of Atilla-200 lasers without a proper license.
Cisneros auctioned other restricted items during March of 2010. During two different transactions, a PEQ AN/PEQ-14 night vision pointer illuminator and Thuraya Satellite phone docker FDU 2500 were shipped to California. A Thuraya Hughes 7101 satellite GSM+GPS was shipped to Kuwait, and a PEQ/Atilla 200 rail mounted laser was shipped to Nevada.
On January 26, 2011, Cisneros admitted that he knew he was not allowed to possess the items and knew selling the items to civilians was illegal. All of the items were eventually recovered except for the satellite phone.
Shane Folden, deputy special agent in charge of HSI Tampa, stated, “We have protection in place to ensure that sensitive technologies do not end up in the hands of our adversaries. This individual, a former soldier, completely disregarded our country’s export laws solely to make a dollar.”
Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Introduction: List of Ongoing Military Conflicts
No list of ongoing military conflicts is ever complete because new conflicts arise every single day. The list of ongoing military conflicts provided in this article is provided by B’s Independent Pro-Peace Initiative—a non-profit initiative that provides complete and neutral information on violent conflicts throughout the world.
List of Ongoing Military Conflicts
Afghanistan – Civil war after occupation by western forces
Angola – Secessionist war in Cabinda
Algeria – Civil war in Azerbaijan
Brazil – Criminal insurgency in São Paulo
Burundi – transition following civil war
Cambodia – Recovery after dictatorship
Central African Republic – Political instability
Chad – Rebellion for state control, Sudan is involved
China (Xinjiang) – Independentist claims
China/Taiwan – Independentist claims
Colombia – Civil war between criminal and parliamentary groups
Comoros – Unrest
Congo – Civil war and transition
Côte d’Ivoire – civil war recovery
Cyprus – Turkish military occupation
East Timor – Transition after independence
Eritrea/Ethiopia – Border dispute
Ethiopia (Gambela) – Inter-ethnic dispute
Ethiopia (Ogaden) – Secessionist claims
Ethiopia (Oromia) – Secessionist claims
Fiji Islands – Inter-ethnic dispute
France (Corsica) – Autonomist claims
Gaza strip – Civil war
Georgia (Abkhazia) – Secessionist claims
Georgia (South Ossetia) – Secessionist claims
Guinea – Political violence
Haiti – Political violence after dictator
India – Maoist Naxalite insurgency
India (Assam) – Autonomist claims
India (Punjab) – Independentist claims
India (Tripura) – Rebellion
India and Pakistan – Dispute over Kashmir
Indonesia (Aceh) – Autonomist claims
Indonesia (Moluccas) – Civil war
Indonesia (West Papua) – Secessionist conflict
Indonesia (Sulawesi) – Religious inter-ethnic conflict
Iraq – Civil war after occupation by western forces
Israel-Palestine – West Bank dispute
Kenya – Unrest
Korea – Armistice agreement never followed
Laos – Persecution of the Hmong minority
Lebanon/Israel – Part of the larger Arab-Israeli conflict
Liberia – Transition after civil war
Mexico – Criminal and paramilitary conflicts
Mexico (Chiapas) – Autonomist claims
Moldova (Transnistria) – Secessionist claims
Morocco (Plazas de soberanía) – Dispute over territory
Myanmar – Internal conflict between ethnicities
Nepal – Transition after Maoist insurgency
Niger – Tuareg rebellion involving Mali
Nigeria (Niger delta) – Ethnic rebellion
Northern Ireland – Secessionist guerrilla
Pakistan (Balochistan) – Autonomy claims
Pakistan (Waziristan) – Pro-Taliban insurgency
Peru – Maoist insurgency
Philippines – Maoist insurgency
Philippines (Mindanao) – Secessionist guerrilla
Russian federation (Chechnya) – Independentist war
Rwanda – Transition after civil war
Saudi Arabia – Khawarij insurgency
Senegal (Casamance) – Secessionist guerrilla
Serbia (Kosovo) – Secessionist claims
Sierra Leone – Recovery following civil war
Solomon Islands – Civil war
Somalia – Civil war with Ethiopia
Spain (Basque Country) – Secessionist guerrilla
Sri Lanka – Secessionist war
Sudan (Darfur) – Secessionist war
Sudan (Eastern Front) – Autonomist claims
Sudan (Southern front) – Transition after civil war
Thailand (Southern region) – Secessionist insurgency
Tibet – Military occupation
Turkey/Kurdistan – Secessionist guerrilla
Uganda – Civil war with Southern Sudan
Vietnam (Montagnards) – Persecution of Montagnards
Western Sahara – Dispute over territory
Yemen – Rebellion
The surprise bombing of the American naval harbor of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 by the Japanese navy had many consequences, including its role in precipitating the United States' entrance into World War II. However, in legal circles, the most important results of the attack on Pearl Harbor were the justifications that the event provided for forcing Japanese and Japanese-American citizens living in the United States to be confined to so-called "relocation camps" for the duration of the war.
The results of the attack on Pearl Harbor and its impact on Japanese-American citizens began when president Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in February of 1942. This order directed the Secretary of War to declare certain areas of the country to be off limits to people of any or all ethnicities for the purposes of greater national security, specifically from preventing spies to conduct espionage. Subsequently, areas with large Japanese and Korean populations were declared to be such "military zones," requiring that these citizens be transferred to "relocation camps" for the remainder of the war. One of the results of the attack on Pearl Harbor was therefore the confinement of roughly 110,000 people for the duration of the war.
One of the results of the attack on Pearl Harbor was the Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. United States, which was heard in 1944. The subject of the case was the refusal of a Japanese-American citizen, Fred Korematsu, to leave his California residence and enter a relocation camp. In his lawsuit, Fred Korematsu charged that Executive Order 9066 was unconstitutional. The government argued that the order was constitutional because the importance of preventing espionage.
In a majority opinion in favor of the government, the Supreme Court concurred that the importance of protecting America from foreign invasion and attack was greater than the importance of respecting Fred Korematsu's constitutional rights. It therefore found that the creation of military zones was constitutionally valid.
One of the results of the attack on Pearl Harbor was that these relocation camps were maintained until January 1945, when their residents were permitted to return to their homes. In 1976, president Gerald Ford issued Proclamation 4417, which officially put an end to Executive Order 9066. Another of the results of the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred in 1980, when president Jimmy Carter ordered a study of the effects of these relocation camps. When completed two years earlier, the study concluded that the relocation camps were unjustifiable and that survivors were entitled to $20,000 apiece as compensation. These payments finally began to be issued in 1990 but were only issued to Japanese-American citizens.
The case of Korematsu v. United States was never officially overturned by another Supreme Court ruling. However, Fred Korematsu was successfully in obtaining an overturning of his conviction during the 1980s. The results of the attack on Pearl Harbor have not extended to attempts to establish new relocation camps during a state of war.