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How do I prepare my return if I'm in a registered domestic partnership (RDP) or civil union (CU)?

Prepare your federal return with the Single or Head of Household filing status. Your partner should do the same. The IRS doesn't recognize registered domestic partnerships or civil unions as marriages.

However, if you're residents in one of the handful of states that recognize RDP and/or civil unions, you can file your state return jointly.

Important: If you're in an RDP and a resident of California, Nevada, or Washington state, you also have to account for community property rules. Refer to these filing instructions instead.

Tip: If you plan to file a joint state return in a state that recognizes your partnership, we strongly recommend using TurboTax CD/Download software instead of TurboTax Online. It will save you time, money, and hassle.

After you start a return in TurboTax, you'll be asked about your marital status on December 31, 2019. Select It's complicated and continue through the program. A little later, you'll enter your personal info and be asked Were you married? You can now select RDP or civil union.

If you don't see an RDP or civil union option, it's because your state doesn't recognize these types of partnerships for tax filing purposes, in which case you'll choose Single.

You can go back and review these screens by doing this:

  1. Open (continue) your return in TurboTax and search for filing status.
    • Select the Jump to link in the search results.
  2. On the Personal info summary screen, select the first Edit button.
  3. In Tell us the state(s) you lived in, make sure your state is correct. Select Continue when finished.
  4. Back on Personal info summary, select Edit next to your filing status (like Single or Married).
  5. You can now confirm your marital status, which will include RDP or civil union if offered by your state.

Now you can follow the instructions in TurboTax to create your federal and state returns.

If you're filing jointly in a state that allows it

Once you've finished preparing your respective single federal returns, we'll prompt you to create a mock joint federal return. This mock return is not filed with the IRS. Its only purpose is to transfer your combined income and deductions to your joint state return. Keep it with your records though.

When all is said and done, you'll have created 4 returns total: 3 federal returns (2 filed with the IRS, plus the mock federal return) and a joint return that you'll file with your state. It sounds a bit complicated, but TurboTax will walk you through it every step of the way.

Please note that for a number of reasons (security being one of them) you won't be able to e-file your state return.

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