hero image

Married filing jointly is a term used when married a couple files their returns jointly before the end of the tax year. In this case, the couple records their incomes, credits, deductions, and exemptions on the same tax return. This method is mainly applicable when one of the couples earns more than the other. When filing jointly, both spouses become responsible for the taxes and returns such that if one understates the tax due, both are held liable.

Advantages of filing jointly

There are several advantages that you get by filing your returns together as a couple. One of the biggest advantages that joint filers enjoy is the large standard deductions offered by IRS every year. This allows them deduct a sizable amount of money immediately. Joint filing can qualify couple to several tax credits like Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit earned Income Tax Credit and exclusion or credit for adoption expenses.

Couples who choose to file their return jointly generally enjoy a reduced combined tax liability than that of individual tax liabilities when filing separately. This is because married filing jointly status qualifies for higher deduction standards and also qualifies you for other benefits that are not available for other statuses. Filing jointly assures a couple of bigger tax refunds and lower tax liability.

Rules for Filing a Joint Return

A couple is allowed to file their return if they are legally married jointly. According to IRS and tax regulations, a couple is legally married if they don’t have a judgment or divorce decree in court on or before filing the returns.

There are several disadvantages when a couple files their returns separately. In addition to missing out on important deductions, filing separately means that both spouses will choose the same method of recording deductions even if one would do be better off by making the opposite choice. A number of factors can, however, make a couple to file their return separately.  These include divorce and separation, liability issues, and diverse pay or deduction scales.

In general, many factors determine whether a couple should file their tax returns jointly or separately. If both are unsure of which way to go, it is good to compute tax returns in both cases to determine where they get the biggest refund.