Married filing separately is usually the worst way to file, but you can do that if you want to.
If you were legally married at the end of 2020 your filing choices are married filing jointly or married filing separately.
Married Filing Jointly is usually better, even if one spouse had little or no income. When you file a joint return, you and your spouse will get the married filing jointly standard deduction of $24,800 (+$1300 for each spouse 65 or older) You are eligible for more credits including education credits, earned income credit, child and dependent care credit, and a larger income limit to receive the child tax credit.
If you choose to file married filing separately, both spouses have to file the same way—either you both itemize or you both use standard deduction. Your tax rate will be higher than on a joint return. Some of the special rules for filing separately include: you cannot get earned income credit, education credits, adoption credits, or deductions for student loan interest. A higher percent of your Social Security benefits may be taxable. Your limit for SALT (state and local taxes and sales tax) will be only $5000 per spouse. In many cases you will not be able to take the child and dependent care credit. The amount you can contribute to a retirement account will be affected. If you live in a community property state, you will be required to provide additional information regarding your spouse’s income. ( Community property states: AZ, CA, ID, LA, NV, NM, TX, WA, WI)
If you are using online TurboTax to prepare your returns, you will need to prepare two separate returns and pay twice.
Oh---so your new spouse owes back taxes? If you file a joint return they will seize your joint refund. Or you might want to file joint but as an injured spouse. It's tricky if you are in a community property state.
you'll need to include form 8379 injured spouse allocation. however, there is no way for us to determine if this is better than married filing separately. basically, taxes are prorated based on each taxpayer's taxable income. certain credits are applied. some are based on the taxpayer that earned them others based on income. then there additional taxes such as SE tax which is specific to each taxpayer and a tax like alternative minimum tax would likely be prorated. each taxpayer gets credits for their withholding and any tax payments such as estimated tax need to be allocated by the taxpayer.
Ouch. Then look at injured spouse---and use that if you have any other reasons to file joint--like ----do you have education credits you will lose if you file MFS? If you file MFS you lose the deduction for student loan interest, you lose earned income credit, you lose childcare credit, more of your Social Security is taxable.....
If not filing joint does not hurt you in those areas, then file MFS and protect your own refund. If you file separate returns they only seize HIS refund. But again---be mindful of whether you are in a community property state--it is all trickier then.
certain credits will be lost if you file as married filing separate - earned income credit and child and dependent care credit. there's no way for us to determine for certain whether filing separate or joint will get you the most money back (or owe the least amount). form 8379 is not submitted if filing separate. if you file 8379 and a joint return make sure if you request direct deposit that the bank the a/c is in your name only