How can we compare married filing jointly with married filing separately?
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If you already created a joint return in the TurboTax CD/Download software, here's a quick way to see how filing separately affects your federal return (this won't work in TurboTax Online):
- Open your return and switch to Forms Mode.
- Open the What-If Worksheet (it may appear as What-If Wks).
- Check the MFJ vs. MFS box at the top.
- Scroll down to Balance Due (Refund) located under Line 74.
- The second column shows the federal outcome for a joint return, and the third and fourth columns, respectively, show the outcome for the taxpayer and spouse if filing separately.
- Negative numbers are refunds, positive numbers are taxes due.
However, this doesn't give you the whole picture because it doesn't account for your state return. For a true "apples to apples" comparison, you'll need to prepare your returns both ways.
Start by creating a test return so you don't have to undo everything if you decide not to make the change.
Create a test account with its own User ID (include the word "test" in the ID so you can distinguish it from your real account).
Prepare your return(s) using the other filing status. Make sure you also do your state return; you might get a bigger refund on your state return which can offset the additional taxes on your federal, or vice-versa.