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.

BREAKING DOWN '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. Filing Status

    A category that defines the type of tax return form an individual ...
  3. Married Filing Jointly

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

    The rate at which an individual is taxed. Tax brackets are set ...
  5. Head Of Household

    A status held by the person in a household who is running the ...
  6. Joint Owned Property

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

    What IRS Form 1023 Is Used For

    To be treated as a tax-exempt organization, start by filling out this form.
  10. Taxes

    Late with Your Taxes? Grab IRS Form 4868

    Fill out this form to get a few more months to file your tax return. But remember, April 15 is still the payment due date if you owe taxes.
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. Are spousal Social Security benefits taxable?

    Your spousal Social Security benefits may be taxable, depending on your total household income for the year. About one-third ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do you calculate penalties on an IRA or Roth IRA early withdrawal?

    With a few exceptions, early withdrawals from traditional or Roth IRAs generally incur a tax penalty equal to 10% of the ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Are credit card rewards taxable?

    Credit card rewards are taxable in the United States some of the time. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) classifies credit ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Are Social Security benefits taxable after age 62?

    Eligibility to collect Social Security benefits begins at age 62. Many seniors, to collect larger benefit amounts, wait until ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Financial Crisis

    A situation in which the value of financial institutions or assets drops rapidly. A financial crisis is often associated ...
  2. Election Period

    The period of time during which an investor who owns an extendable or retractable bond must indicate to the issuer whether ...
  3. Shanghai Stock Exchange

    The largest stock exchange in mainland China, the Shanghai Stock Exchange is a nonprofit organization run by the China Securities ...
  4. Dead Cat Bounce

    A temporary recovery from a prolonged decline or bear market, followed by the continuation of the downtrend. A dead cat bounce ...
  5. Bear Market

    A market condition in which the prices of securities are falling, and widespread pessimism causes the negative sentiment ...
  6. Alligator Spread

    An unprofitable spread that occurs as a result of large commissions charged on the transaction, regardless of favorable market ...
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!