Tax Questions Blog
What are the rules for filing married filing jointly?
When you are married without any dependents, then you have the choice of filing your tax return as a married couple filing jointly or married filing separately.
If you are legally separated or divorced, the IRS may consider you ‘unmarried’ and you may file as a single taxpayer instead of married taxpayer.
If you have a dependent, you may qualify to file your tax return as a head of household or qualifying widow(er).
Definition of married filing jointly
Who can file married filing jointly?
Couples who are legally married on December 31 can file using the married filing jointly (MFJ) filing status even if:
- they didn’t live together during the year or if
- one spouse didn’t earn any income or have any deductions.
Filing married filing jointly usually give the taxpayers higher tax deductions, more tax credits and lots of other advantages over filing as married filing separately. Therefore, most married couples file as married filing jointly.
Can divorced couples file married filing jointly?
Couples who are divorcing but the divorce is not final by year-end can still file using the married filing jointly tax filing status if both parties agree and sign the tax return. However, a husband and wife who were legally separated under a legal divorce decree cannot file using the married filing jointly tax status.
Can I file married filing jointly with my deceased spouse?
If your spouse died this year and you did not remarry before year-end, you can file married filing jointly. You’ll report all of your income for the year and the income earned by the deceased spouse up until the time of death. However, the year of death is the last year you can file married filing jointly with your deceased spouse.
Tax Questions is a resource and information website only. We do not offer individual advice. For specific tax questions and answers, you are advised to consult your tax attorney.