To compare Joint to MFS. If you are using the Online version, do NOT change anything on your return. You would have to start with a new account and do a test return. You don't have to pay unless you want to print it out. So you might need 3 accounts, one for Joint and two MFS, one for each spouse.
How to Compare Joint to Married Filing Separately
How to start another return in the Online version
It would be better to use the Desktop CD/Download program. It can do unlimited returns and has a What If worksheet to compare them and many other advantages over the online version.
You can buy the Desktop CD/Download program here
Here's some things to consider about filing separately……
In the first place you each have to file a separate return, so that's two returns. And if you are using the Online version that means using 2 accounts and paying the fees twice.
Many people think they come out better when filing Married Filing Separate but they are probably doing it wrong. If one person itemizes deductions on Schedule A then the other one must itemize too, even if it's less than the standard deduction, even if it is ZERO! And if you are in a Community Property state it can be complicated to figure out.
And there are several credits you can't take when filing separately, like the
EITC Earned Income Tax Credit
Child Care Credit
Educational Deductions and Credits
And contributions to IRA and ROTH IRA are limited when you file MFS.
Also if you file Married Filing Separately up to 85`% of your Social Security becomes taxable right away even with zero other income.
Filing a tax return means sending it to the IRS. You can only file once. But you can prepare tax returns both ways, without actually filing them, in order to do the comparison. VolvoGirl gave you some suggestions for how to do that.
TurboTax Online is not a good vehicle for doing the comparison. Each TurboTax Online account can have only one return, so you would need three separate accounts to prepare a joint return and two separate returns.
You could also save yourself a lot of work by just filing jointly. Unless there is something very unusual about your tax situation, it's extremely rare for filing separately to work out better. See VolvoGirl's second post for some of the disadvantages of filing separately.
If you live in Ohio and both have income, in some cases you might save enough on your state taxes by filing separately that it would more than make up for the extra federal tax. The only way to know for sure is to prepare federal and state tax returns both ways. But this is only for Ohio, because of the unusual structure of the Ohio state tax.
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