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Spouses Receive State Residency Protection

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Diana Burcaw
  • 43rd Airlift Wing, Judge Advocate
Under changes to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act military dependent spouses receive state residency protection. In a nutshell, a spouse will not lose his or her legal residency because he or she relocates with the service member. On Nov. 11, 2009, Public law 111-97, Military Spouses Residency Relief Act amended the SCRA to guarantee the equity of military spouses in regards to residency, voting, and taxation.

The MSRRA states when a service member leaves their home state or legal residency because of military orders, and the spouse relocates with the service member, the spouse may retain his or her legal residency for tax purposes. The income the spouse earns from services performed in the state where they are stationed shall not be taxed by that state if it is not their state of legal residence.

The law does not necessarily mean that someone who relocates from their state of legal residency will never be taxed because of a service member's military orders. The law will allow a spouse's state of legal residency to tax the income from work that is performed in the relocation state. Even though the MSRRA became effective November 2009, this act is retroactive for the entire year of 2009, meaning that spouses can file for refunds of state taxes that were withheld for the year of 2009 from their non-domiciliary state. Spouses working in North Carolina may request their employer stop withholding state taxes from their pay by submitting a new Form NC-4 to their employer. Under current rules, the NC-4 claiming exemption will have to be resubmitted each year prior to Dec. 1 to continue the exemption for the following year.

The MSRRA also allows spouses to continue to vote in their state of legal residency even after relocating with the servicemember because of military orders.

While the MSRRA can be confusing, help is available at the Pope legal office. ITo speak with an attorney about the MSRRA, walk-in legal assistance is available Mondays or Wednesdays from 1 to 4 p.m.. Also check with the appropriate state tax authorities for any rules they may have created, especially with respect to refunds for tax year 2009. For additional information regarding North Carolina State Taxes, visit