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Should my spouse and I file separately or jointly?

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2024 | Blog, Tax Debt |

Married couples have the option to file their income taxes jointly or separately.

Each option comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Filing jointly

According to CNBC, in 2021, roughly 54 million couples chose to file jointly, while only 3.9 million filed separately. Filing jointly means combining both spouses’ incomes and deductions on one tax return. Couples often choose this option because it can result in lower tax rates and may make you eligible for certain tax credits and deductions that you would not qualify for if you filed separately.

One of the main benefits of filing jointly is that it can simplify the tax-filing process. With only one tax return to prepare, you can save time and reduce the chances of making errors.

Filing jointly often results in a higher standard deduction, which can lower your taxable income and reduce your overall tax liability.

There are also some potential drawbacks to filing jointly. Both spouses are jointly responsible for any taxes owed, as well as any errors or omissions on the tax return. This means that if one spouse makes a mistake or underreports income, the IRS could hold both spouses liable.

Filing separately

Filing separately means each spouse files their own tax return, reporting only their individual income and deductions. While this option may seem more straightforward in some cases, it is important to consider the implications.

One benefit of filing separately is that it can protect one spouse from the other’s tax liabilities.

Filing separately can also be beneficial if one spouse has significant medical expenses, miscellaneous deductions or other itemized deductions that exceed the threshold for claiming them jointly.

Filing separately can also result in higher tax rates and disqualification from certain tax credits and deductions. Carefully calculate the potential tax consequences of both options before making a decision.

Consideration of the ups and downsides of each option will help you decide whether it is best to file jointly or separately.