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nononsense22
New Member

Why is filing together as a couple better than filing separate? We were married in July, which half of the year we were not together.

 
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jerry2000
Alumni

Why is filing together as a couple better than filing separate? We were married in July, which half of the year we were not together.

Your filing status is determined by your marital status as of the last day of the tax year. If you were married as of that day, then you file as married for the entire year.

Married Filing Jointly is usually the best filing status. You get a personal exemption for both of you, you get the highest standard deduction, and you get the lowest tax rates.

Each year you can choose to file as Married Filing Separately. However, that may not provide the benefit that you expect, and you will almost always end up paying more in tax than if you file jointly.
The Married Filing Separately filing status is very different than the Single filing status. There are a number of severe restrictions on deductions and credits, and on the amount of IRA contributions that you can deduct, especially if you live together with your spouse.
You can not take the EIC,
You can not take the credit for Child and Dependent Care, in most cases,
You can not take the Education credits/deductions, and there are many other restrictions.
 If either of you receive Social Security benefits and you live with your spouse, more of the SS benefit will be taxable, and the person receiving it will have to include the SS benefit in their gross income when determining whether they have to file. If one of you itemizes deductions, the other must also itemize even if they have nothing to itemize.

Before you decide, you should carefully read the restrictions that go with MFS in  IRS Pub. 501, at this link:
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p501.pdf

You should carefully read the limits on IRA deductions in IRS Pub. 590-A at this link:
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p590a.pdf

In addition, if you live in a Community Property state, there are special rules you must follow for reporting income and expense. For further information on that, see IRS Pub. 555, at this link:
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p555.pdf

and/or the Turbotax FAQ at this link:
https://ttlc.intuit.com/questions/1901162-married-filing-separately-in-community-property-states

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1 Reply
jerry2000
Alumni

Why is filing together as a couple better than filing separate? We were married in July, which half of the year we were not together.

Your filing status is determined by your marital status as of the last day of the tax year. If you were married as of that day, then you file as married for the entire year.

Married Filing Jointly is usually the best filing status. You get a personal exemption for both of you, you get the highest standard deduction, and you get the lowest tax rates.

Each year you can choose to file as Married Filing Separately. However, that may not provide the benefit that you expect, and you will almost always end up paying more in tax than if you file jointly.
The Married Filing Separately filing status is very different than the Single filing status. There are a number of severe restrictions on deductions and credits, and on the amount of IRA contributions that you can deduct, especially if you live together with your spouse.
You can not take the EIC,
You can not take the credit for Child and Dependent Care, in most cases,
You can not take the Education credits/deductions, and there are many other restrictions.
 If either of you receive Social Security benefits and you live with your spouse, more of the SS benefit will be taxable, and the person receiving it will have to include the SS benefit in their gross income when determining whether they have to file. If one of you itemizes deductions, the other must also itemize even if they have nothing to itemize.

Before you decide, you should carefully read the restrictions that go with MFS in  IRS Pub. 501, at this link:
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p501.pdf

You should carefully read the limits on IRA deductions in IRS Pub. 590-A at this link:
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p590a.pdf

In addition, if you live in a Community Property state, there are special rules you must follow for reporting income and expense. For further information on that, see IRS Pub. 555, at this link:
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p555.pdf

and/or the Turbotax FAQ at this link:
https://ttlc.intuit.com/questions/1901162-married-filing-separately-in-community-property-states
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