Best Filing Status for Married Couples

accountantSummer is wedding season. While tax returns and filing status are probably not high on your to-do list, you should be aware that with marriage, come tax changes–such as choosing the best filing status. 

After you say, “I do” you’ll have two filing status options to choose from when filing your 2016 tax returns: married filing jointly, or married filing separately.

Married Filing Jointly

If you’re married as of Dec. 31, that’s your marital status for the whole year for tax purposes. You can choose married, filing jointly as your filing status if you are married and both you and your spouse agree to file a joint return. On a joint return, you report your combined income and deduct your combined allowable expenses. You can file a joint return even if one of you had no income or deductions.

If you and your spouse decide to file a joint return, your tax may be lower than your combined tax for the other filing statuses. Also, your standard deduction (if you do not itemize) may be higher, and you may qualify for tax benefits that do not apply to other filing statuses.

Joint Responsibility. Both of you may be held responsible, jointly and individually, for the tax and any interest or penalty due on your joint return. One spouse may be held responsible for all the tax due even if all the income was earned by the other spouse.

Married Filing Separately

If you are married, you can also choose married filing separately as your filing status. This filing status may benefit you if you want to be responsible only for your own tax or if it results in less tax than filing a joint return.

Call the office to ask an accountant if you’re not sure which status to file under. If you and your spouse each have income, your tax will be figured both ways to determine which filing status gives you the lowest combined tax.

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