DEFINITION of 'Separate Return'
A separate Form 1040, or a variant thereof, filed by a married taxpayer who is not filing jointly. A separate return is usually filed either by a married couple who are divorcing or by a married couple where one spouse has much higher income and deductions than the other.
BREAKING DOWN 'Separate Return'
Taxpayers who file separately forfeit a number of tax credits, such as the earned income credit and the dependent care credit. They are also ineligible to make Roth IRA contributions or convert their Traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs.