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Ask the Expert: Should a Married Couple File Taxes Jointly or Separately?


As tax season approaches, are you wondering whether you and your spouse should file taxes together? Federally licensed tax practitioner Emily Seo offers advice on how to know whether you should file jointly or separately as a married couple.



couple holding handsIs there a quick way to know if a husband and wife are better off filing taxes jointly or separately? What considerations should they take?

In most cases, you will pay more combined federal tax when filing separately rather than jointly because the special rules apply. For example, if you file separately, you cannot take the credit for higher education, the deduction for student loan interest, or the tuition and fees deduction. In addition, you cannot take the exclusion or credit for adoption expenses and the credit for child and dependent care expenses in most instances.



More special rules apply for separate return filers, so I strongly recommend you to file a joint return unless you do not want joint liability. You can file a joint return even if one of you had no income or deductions. If both you and your spouse have income, it would be a good idea to figure out your tax on both a joint return and separate returns so you can compare which way gives you the lower combined tax.

 

—Emily Seo, EA, is a federally licensed tax practitioner at Tax Pro Team in Flushing. The Tax Pro Team, which also includes a CPA and former IRS agent, specializes in personal and corporate income tax returns and audit issues. Call 718-463-1040 for a free consultation.

 

Also See:

Ask the Expert: What Types of Childcare Can I Take Off My Taxes?

 

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