• Blog
  • Life
  • Married Filing Jointly vs Separately: Which Should I Choose?
Should Married Couples File Jointly or Separately (1440 × 600 px)
Should Married Couples File Jointly or Separately (411 × 600 px)

Married Filing Jointly vs Separately: Which Should I Choose?

Read the Article

Like many of the decisions made in a marriage, the choices that couples make are based on their specific circumstances. The same concept applies to the decision you make regarding filing status after you tie the knot. Once you get married, your filing status will shift from either single or head of household to married filing jointly or married filing separately. A lot of couples often wonder, “What is my filing status now that I’m married?” as well as wondering, “Should I File Married Filing Jointly or Separately”?

Typically, the IRS considers you married for the entire year, even if you don’t get married until the last day of the year. So, if you are legally married as of December 31st, then you must file as either married filing jointly or married filing separately. 

Let’s review the pros and cons of filing jointly or separately and the reasons why couples may choose one status over the other. 

Pros of filing married filing jointly

Should I file a married filing jointly? 

In general, couples who file married filing jointly versus separately receive more tax breaks, which means more money in their pockets at tax time.

The IRS gives couples filing jointly the largest standard deduction each year. This standard deduction allows couples to deduct a considerable amount from their taxable income immediately. For 2024, the standard deduction for a couple filing jointly is $29,200 as opposed to $14,600 if you are filing separately or are single.

In addition, for couples to qualify for certain tax credits, they cannot file married filing separately and must file a joint tax return. Some popular tax credits that couples who file married filing jointly can qualify for include: 

Typically, couples who file married filing jointly can have more income before they are phased out of certain tax credits and deductions. 

Husband and wife looking over a document together.

Cons of married filing separately

What are some disadvantages of married filing a separate tax return? 

Couples who choose to file separate tax returns receive few tax incentives. Filing separate tax returns causes you to be taxed at a higher tax rate. The standard deduction for married filing separate filers is $14,600 for 2024, which is significantly lower than the amount available to married filing joint filers. 

Some common disadvantages to filing a separate tax return also include: 

  • Not being able to take a deduction for student loan interest. 
  • Typically being limited to a smaller IRA contribution deduction. 
  • Being disqualified from several tax credits and benefits available to those married filing jointly. 
  • Both spouses will either need to both itemize or use the standard deduction. They cannot choose different methods.

When might it be a good idea to file separately?

As discussed, couples who file jointly receive more tax breaks, but sometimes it’s a good idea to consider filing a married filing separate tax return. 

These situations may include the following scenarios: 

  • If together, the married couple’s income would be too high to qualify for the medical expense deduction, but if filing separately, one spouse could qualify to deduct their medical expenses. 
  • If your spouse’s tax bill is significant, then filing separately can serve as protection so your refund would not apply to what your spouse owes. 
  • If your spouse has not paid outstanding child support payments, filing separately would prevent the IRS from taking your portion of any refund. 
Young Black woman smiling and writing.

How to decide which filing status to use? 

The best filing status will depend on your individual situation. Most people benefit from filing married filing jointly since tax rates can be lower, and there are more tax deductions and credits available when you file married filing jointly. At tax time, TurboTax will guide you through choosing the right filing status for your situation.

We’ve Got You Covered

No matter what moves you made last year, TurboTax will make them count on your taxes. Whether you want to do your taxes yourself or have a TurboTax expert file for you, we’ll make sure you get every dollar you deserve and your biggest possible refund – guaranteed. 

Leave a Reply