Rules for filing married filing separately

What are the rules for filing married filing separately?

If you are legally married, you can choose to file your tax return as a married filing separately taxpayer or a married filing jointly taxpayer. Any married person can file as married filing separately if he or she chooses to.

Definition of married filing separately

Who can file married filing separately?

Any couple who qualifies to use the married filing jointly (MFJ) filing status also qualifies to use the married filing separately (MFS) filing status.

What is the tax implication of filing married filing separately?

Usually, married couples pay a higher combined tax bill by if they file their tax returns as married filing separately. There are lower tax deductions, less tax credits and fewer tax benefits available for anyone filing married filing separately. Because of much fewer tax benefits, most married couples file as married filing jointly.

Are there advantages of filing married filing separately?

Yes, there are situations where filing as married filing separately is advantageous form a financial or legal standpoint.

Filing married filing separately is an option for those married couples:

  • who cannot agree to file a joint return or
  • who choose to maintain separate finances.
  • who is concerned about being legally responsible for his or her spouse’s tax liability (and penalties and interest)

If you fall under any of the above category, you should consider filing a separate tax return from your 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.