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MFJ MFS vs Single - living separately in CA and OH

My fiance and I live and work in separate states - California and Ohio. We plan to continue living apart after we get married. Would we end up paying more taxes as a married couple (either married filing jointly or married filing separately) than if we remained single?

3 Replies
Level 15

MFJ MFS vs Single - living separately in CA and OH

Your situation is complicated since CA is a community property state ... may I highly suggest you use the Downloaded version where you can test several returns to see how things will be affected. 



This is my mini version of  a tutorial  that should be in the downloaded program: 



What is Forms Mode?

Forms Mode lets you view and make changes to your tax forms "behind the scenes."

If you're adventurous, you can even prepare your return in Forms Mode, but we don't recommend it. You may miss obscure credits and deductions you qualify for, and you may forget to report things that will come back and haunt you later.

Forms Mode is exclusively available in the TurboTax CD/Download software. It is not available in TurboTax Online.


Related Information:


If you want to play around with different figures and tax scenarios without affecting your original return you can ….

  • >>>In the TurboTax CD/Download software by creating a test copy
  •  Open your return in TurboTax. 
  •  From the File menu, choose Save As. 
  •  Give the copy a new name to distinguish it from the original (for example, by adding "Test" or "Example" to the file name). 
  • Click  Save. You are now safely working in the test copy and anything you do here will not affect the original. 


  • >> use the WHAT IF tool: 
  • - Click Forms Icon (upper right of screen) or Ctrl 2 (forms view) 
  • - Click on the Open Form Icon 
  • - In the “Type a form name.” area type What-If (with the dash), click on the name of the worksheet - click on Open Form 
  • - You will see the worksheet on the right side of the screen; enter the information right into the form 
  • - To get back to interview mode - click on the Step-by-Step Icon (upper right of screen) or Ctrl 1



It's always a good idea to make a backup copy of your tax data file, in case your original gets lost or corrupted. Here's how:

  1. From the File menu in the upper-left corner of TurboTax, choose Save As (Windows) or Save (Mac).
  2. Browse to where you want to save your backup.
    • Tip:If you're saving to a portable device, save it to your computer first to prevent data corruption. Then, after completing Step 4, copy or move the backup file to your device.
  3. In the File name field, enter a name that will distinguish it from the original tax file (for example, add "Backup" or "Copy" to the file name)
  4. Click Save and then close TurboTax.
  5. Restart TurboTax and open the backup copy to make sure it's not corrupted. If you get an error, delete the backup and repeat these steps.

If you make changes to your original tax return file, repeat these steps to ensure your original and backup copies are in-synch.

Related Information:                             


AND save it as a PDF so you have access to a copy even if you don’t have the program still installed and operational :

AND protect the files :






Level 15

MFJ MFS vs Single - living separately in CA and OH

First, if you are "NOT" married on or before Dec 31, 2019 and there are no kids involved, then the only filing status available to each of you is *single*. That's it.

Otherwise, for a married couple to file separate will always cost more tax-wise. When a married couple files separate returns, both partners *automatically* disqualify for deductions they would otherwise qualify for if they filed joint. For example, you can't get "any" deductions for education, or the EIC credit among numerous others. Additionally, if one of you takes the standard deductions, then you must *both* take the standard deduction; even if the itemized deductions of one of you is higher. Likewise on the flipside, if one of you itemizes deductions, then both of you must itemize deductions; even if the itemized deductions of one of you is ZERO.

So on the federal tax side for a married couple to file separate, it's practically *never* advantageous to do so. On the state side, if both of you have different states of legal residence and one of those states is a community property state, that not only complicates the separate state returns each of you must file - it also complicates things on the federal return.

In other words, in your case if you two file separately, welcome to the nightmare from which you may never awaken. 🙂

Level 15

MFJ MFS vs Single - living separately in CA and OH

96% of married couples file "joint" for the reasons outlined above in this thread. 

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