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. Deduction

    Any item or expenditure subtracted from gross income to reduce ...
  2. Married Filing Jointly

    A filing status for married couples that have wed before the ...
  3. Tax Bracket

    The rate at which an individual is taxed. Tax brackets are set ...
  4. Itemized Deduction

    A deduction from a taxpayer's taxable adjusted gross income that ...
  5. Joint Owned Property

    Any property held in the name of two or more parties. The two ...
  6. Standard Deduction

    A base amount of income that is not subject to tax and that can ...
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 are the best free online calculators for calculating my taxable income?

    Free online calculators for determining your taxable income are located at Bankrate.com, TaxACT.com and Moneychimp.com. Determining ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. In what instances does overhead qualify for certain tax allowances?

    Businesses are just as keen as anyone else to keep their tax burdens low by any means possible. Overhead expenses often qualify ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How are write-offs recorded on my tax return?

    The way your write-offs are recorded on your tax return varies depending on whether you are filing a personal or business ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between comprehensive income and gross income?

    Comprehensive income and gross income are similar, but comprehensive income is a specific term used on a company's financial ... 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. Taxes

    Are You Paying Too Much in Taxes?

    Overpaying taxes amounts to an interest-free loan to the government. Here are some ways to avoid that scenario.
  10. Taxes

    What's a Tax Shield?

    A tax shield is a deduction, credit or other means used to reduce the amount of taxes an individual or business owes to the government.

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Xetra

    An all-electronic trading system based in Frankfurt, Germany. Launched in 1997 and operated by the Deutsche Börse, the Xetra ...
  2. Nuncupative Will

    A verbal will that must have two witnesses and can only deal with the distribution of personal property. A nuncupative will ...
  3. OsMA

    An abbreviation for Oscillator - Moving Average. OsMA is used in technical analysis to represent the variance between an ...
  4. Investopedia

    One of the best-known sources of financial information on the internet. Investopedia is a resource for investors, consumers ...
  5. Unfair Claims Practice

    The improper avoidance of a claim by an insurer or an attempt to reduce the size of the claim. By engaging in unfair claims ...
  6. Killer Bees

    An individual or firm that helps a company fend off a takeover attempt. A killer bee uses defensive strategies to keep an ...
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!