Troops serving in Operation Desert Storm may file and pay their state and federal income tax returns up to 180 days after they leave the combat zone.

The Internal Revenue Service and the Utah State Tax Commission have granted automatic extensions to military families with members serving in the combat zone. The deadline is extended even further for any soldier hospitalized as a result of injuries received in the conflict.For those filing joint returns, the extension also applies to their spouses in the United States and elsewhere.

Joint returns for married couples must include the signature of both spouses or the signature of one spouse and power of attorney or similar statement from the spouse in the combat zone.

The IRS also will accept a written statement explaining that the husband or wife is in the combat zone. The spouse filing the tax return must sign the statement and attach it to the tax form.

Tax preparers should write "Desert Storm" on the top of their tax returns and on the envelope to alert the tax agencies to the special status of these returns.

Effective Jan. 1, 1991, soldiers serving in the combat zone will receive all or a portion of their pay tax free. Until the president signs an executive order officially terminating the Persian Gulf's status as a combat zone, all military pay for enlisted personnel is tax free beginning January 1.

For more information, call the IRS toll free at 1-800-829-1040 or the Utah State Tax Commission at 530-4848 in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area or toll-free within Utah, 1-800-662-4339.