Married Filing Separately


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.

  1. Filing Status

    A category that defines the type of tax return form an individual ...
  2. Deduction

    Any item or expenditure subtracted from gross income to reduce ...
  3. Head Of Household

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

    Any property held in the name of two or more parties. The two ...
  5. Married Filing Jointly

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

    The rate at which an individual is taxed. Tax brackets are set ...
Related Articles
  1. Taxes

    10 Money-Saving Year-End Tax Tips

    Getting organized well before the deadline will curb your frustration and your tax liability.
  2. Taxes

    Changes In Tax Legislation And Regulation

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

    Marriage: For Richer Or Poorer?

    Marriage can be like doubling an income, as long as you avoid doubling these expenses.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. Taxes

    The Ultimate Tax-Time Checklist

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

    Tax Breaks For Volunteering

    Your volunteer ventures could earn you some welcome tax deductions, along with the satisfaction of helping others.
  10. Taxes

    Six Ways Your Tax Preparer Knows You’re Lying

    Cheating on your taxes is asking for trouble. You might get away with it, but you’re playing with fire and likely to get burned.
  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. Do tax brackets include Social Security?

    A portion of your Social Security benefits may be subject to federal taxation using tax brackets. Your tax bracket is determined ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Do 401k contributions reduce AGI and/or MAGI?

    Traditional 401(k) contributions effectively reduce both adjusted gross income (AGI) and modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Are Cafeteria plans subject to FICA, ERISA or FUTA?

    Cafeteria plans are employer-sponsored benefit plans that provide both taxable and nontaxable, or qualified, benefit options ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Are IRS audits random?

    While the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) conducts some of its tax audits using random selection based on a statistical ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  2. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  3. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  4. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  5. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  6. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
Trading Center