Married Filing Separately

AAA

DEFINITION of 'Married Filing Separately'

A filing status for married couples who choose to record their respective incomes, exemptions and deductions on separate tax returns. In most cases, married filing jointly offers the most tax savings, especially when the spouses have different income levels. However, there is a potential tax advantage to filing separately when one spouse has significant medical expenses or miscellaneous itemized deductions.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Married Filing Separately'

According to the IRS, if you and your spouse file separate returns and one of you itemizes deductions, the other spouse will have a standard deduction of zero. Therefore, the other spouse should also itemize deductions. Some credits cannot be used at all if you file separately; these include the child and dependent care credit, hope and lifetime learning credits, and adoption expense credit. If you live in community property states including Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington or Wisconsin, you may need to see a tax professional because the rules about separate incomes can be tricky.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Filing Status

    A category that defines the type of tax return form an individual ...
  2. Head Of Household

    A status held by the person in a household who is running the ...
  3. Itemized Deduction

    A deduction from a taxpayer's taxable adjusted gross income that ...
  4. Standard Deduction

    A base amount of income that is not subject to tax and that can ...
  5. Marital Property

    A U.S. state-level legal distinction of a married individual's ...
  6. Community Property

    A U.S. state-level legal distinction of a married individual's ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. When am I considered "married" for tax purposes?

    You are generally considered married for tax purposes as long as you were married as of the last day of the year, regardless ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How can I tell if I'm eligible for an EITC?

    According to the IRS, over 22 million taxpayers received $41.4 billion dollars in earned income tax credit (EITC) for tax ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is an IRS letter audit / audit by correspondence?

    Every year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sends numerous notices to taxpayers. Letter audit, or audit by correspondence, ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. When might an abatement be granted by the IRS?

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) frequently imposes interest and penalties due to the late filing of a tax return, underpayment ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are the tax advantages of a Roth 401(k) over an IRA or traditional 401(k)?

    Roth 401(k) dollars are essentially subject to the same income tax rules as Roth IRA. Funds already held within a Roth 4 ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Where can I find a good withholding tax table on the Internet?

    An Internet search for the most current withholding tax rates will likely result in numerous articles about how to pay the ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Taxes

    Changes In Tax Legislation And Regulation

    Keeping on top of these amendments can help you avoid penalties and take advantage of benefits.
  2. Budgeting

    Marriage: For Richer Or Poorer?

    Marriage can be like doubling an income, as long as you avoid doubling these expenses.
  3. Taxes

    Happily Married? File Taxes Separately!

    Just because you are in love doesn't mean that a joint return is best for both of you.
  4. Taxes

    Newlyweds? Tips For Filing Your Tax Return

    For many couples, it pays to file for taxes together. But what are some of the obstacles you should watch out for?
  5. Taxes

    The Ultimate Tax-Time Checklist

    Find out what information you need to pull together before filling out your return.
  6. Taxes

    10 Money-Saving Year-End Tax Tips

    Getting organized well before the deadline will curb your frustration and your tax liability.
  7. Retirement

    Financial Infidelity: Are YOU A Cheater?

    These sneaky financial moves could erode your finances - and your relationship.
  8. Budgeting

    The No.1 Reason Why Couples Fight

    Learn how to resolve the financial and emotional issues surrounding a scarce commodity.
  9. Professionals

    How to Best Navigate Taxes in Retirement

    Here's a rundown on tax strategies that can help extend the life of a nest egg.
  10. Taxes

    10 Little Known Ways To Reduce Your 401(k) Taxes

    These clever strategies will help you hold onto your money – so you'll have more available for your retirement.

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. National Currency

    The currency or legal tender issued by a nation's central bank or monetary authority. The national currency of a nation is ...
  2. Treasury Yield

    The return on investment, expressed as a percentage, on the debt obligations of the U.S. government. Treasuries are considered ...
  3. Bund

    A bond issued by Germany's federal government, or the German word for "bond." Bunds are the German equivalent of U.S. Treasury ...
  4. European Central Bank - ECB

    The central bank responsible for the monetary system of the European Union (EU) and the euro currency. The bank was formed ...
  5. Quantitative Easing

    An unconventional monetary policy in which a central bank purchases private sector financial assets in order to lower interest ...
  6. Current Account Deficit

    A measurement of a country’s trade in which the value of goods and services it imports exceeds the value of goods and services ...
Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!