Should You And Your Spouse File Taxes Jointly or Separately?

Married couples have the option to submit jointly or individually on their federal tax return. The IRS strongly motivates most couples to submit a joint income tax return by extending several tax breaks to those who file together. In the large bulk of cases, it’s finest for married couples to submit collectively, but there might be a couple of circumstances when it’s better to submit separate returns.

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There are many benefits to filing a joint income tax return with your partner. The Internal Revenue Service offers joint filers among the largest standard reductions each year, enabling them to deduct a substantial quantity of their income immediately.

Couples who submit together can usually get approved for numerous tax credits such as the:

  • Earned Earnings Tax Credit
  • American Opportunity and Lifetime Knowing Education Tax Credits
  • Exclusion or credit for adoption costs
  • Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit

Joint filers mostly get greater earnings limits for certain taxes and deductions– this indicates they can earn a larger amount of earnings and possibly qualify for certain tax breaks.


On the other hand, couples who file independently receive few tax factors to consider. Separate income tax returns may offer you a greater tax with a higher tax rate. The basic deduction for different filers is far lower than that used to joint filers.

  • In 2019, married filing independently taxpayers only get a basic deduction of $ 12,200 compared to the $ 24,400 used to those who filed collectively.
  • If you submit a different return from your spouse, you are immediately disqualified from several of the tax deductions and credits pointed out earlier.
  • In addition, separate filers are typically limited to a smaller IRA contribution reduction.
  • They also can not take the reduction for trainee loan interest.
  • The capital loss deduction limitation is $1,500 each when filing independently, instead of $3,000 on a joint return.


In uncommon situations, submitting separately may help you minimize your income tax return.

  • For instance, if you or your spouse has a large quantity of out-of-pocket medical expenditures to claim and because the Internal Revenue Service only allows you to deduct the quantity of these expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross earnings (AGI) in 2019 (10% of AGI starting in 2020), it can be hard to claim most of your expenses if you and your spouse have a high AGI.
    • For instance, if you have $10,000 in medical costs and made $50,000. That would meet the 7.5% threshold ($ 10,000 & divide; $50,000 = 20% of your income).
    • Whereas, if together you make $135,000, this would disqualify you from claiming these medical expenses ($ 10,000 & divide; $135,000 = 7.4% of your earnings).
  • Filing different returns in such a situation might be helpful if it permits you to claim more of your available medical reductions by applying the threshold to just one of your incomes.

For more tips on when you might want to file individually, be sure to inspect out our article When Married Filing Separately Will Conserve You Taxes.


The very best method to discover out if you should submit collectively or independently with your partner is to prepare the income tax return both methods. Check your calculations and after that look at the net refund or balance due from each method. If you use TurboTax to prepare your return, we’ll do the estimation for you, and advise the filing status that offers you the greatest tax cost savings.

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