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Tips for Filing Taxes as a Married Couple

couple on laptop

Being married means a lot of financial changes – the way you budget, your approach to saving and even how you file your taxes*. Understanding your filing status will ensure your taxes are filed correctly and efficiently. To help, we have some tips for married couples filing taxes this year.

If you’re married or are thinking about marriage, there are several tax issues to consider, including:

Filing status

Marital status is determined on the last day of the year (December 31 for most individuals). The following rules will apply:

  • Single: You can select single as your filing status if you were unmarried as of the last day of the tax year.
  • Head of household: The rules for qualifying for head of household status vary, depending on whether you are treated as married or single.
  • Married filing jointly: You and your spouse (or former spouse) can choose to file a joint return if you were married to each other through the last day of the tax year, even if you were living apart.
  • Married filing separately: You can select married filing separately as your filing status if you are married or if you are no longer married but had remained married to your former spouse up to and including the last day of the tax year.
  • Qualifying widow(er): You may qualify for this status if your spouse died during the past two tax years, you qualified to file jointly with your spouse in his or her year of death, you have not remarried by the end of the current calendar year, you have a qualifying dependent child and you provide over half the cost of supporting your child.

“Married Filing Jointly” vs. “Married Filing Separately”

Generally, couples who file “Married Filing Separately” tend to pay more in total taxes than couples who file “Married Filing Jointly.” This is because some deductions and tax credits are not available for married taxpayers who file separately. However, in some circumstances, filing separate returns can actually result in a lower combined tax liability. You should figure your tax both on a joint return and on separate returns to be sure you are using the method that best suits your needs. For further assistance, discuss your returns with a tax advisor.

Understanding taxes as a married couple can be overwhelming. Working with a tax advisor will ensure all your questions are answered and your taxes are filed correctly.