joint return

What is a joint return?

A joint return is a new simplified form 1040 (as of 2018) filed by two married taxpayers who file as married filing jointly (MFJ) or a widowed taxpayer who files as a married taxpayer to the IRS (as of 2018). The tax return filed by the IRS) is a Qualified Widow or Widowmaker (QW). Joint returns allow these taxpayers to combine their tax obligations and report their income, deductions, and credits on the same joint return.

key takeaways

  • A joint tax return is for married couples and offers some tax benefits compared to married and filing separately.
  • In order to qualify for joint filing status, you must be married in the year you file jointly.
  • Filers who have recently lost a spouse are also eligible for the tax advantages of filing jointly by filing as a qualified widow or widower.

How joint returns work

Joint filing allows eligible taxpayers to calculate their taxes using favorable joint filing tax brackets, tax rates and tax benefits. As a result, married couples who file joint tax returns typically pay less in total tax than married couples who file two separate tax returns.

2019 Federal Income Tax Scope (filed April 2020)
single husband and wife filing jointly Married Separate Application head of household
10% $0 – $9,875 $0 – 19,750 $0 – $9,700 $0 – $13,850
12% $9,876 – $40,125 $9,701 – $39,475 $13,851 – $52,850
twenty two% $40,126 – $85,525 $80,251 – $171,050 $39,476 – $84,200 $52,851 – $84,200
twenty four% $85,526 – $163,300 $171,051 – $326,600 $84,201 – $160,725 $84,201 – $160,700
32% $163,301 – $207,350 $326,601 – $414,700 $160,726 – $204,100
35% $207,351 – $518,400 $414,701 – $622,050 $204,101 – $306,175 $204,101 – $510,300
37% Over $518,401 Over $510,301
Source: SmartAsset

Who is eligible to file a joint tax return

To file a joint return, the taxpayer’s filing status must be Married Joint Filer (MFJ) or Qualified Widow (QW). To qualify for Married Joint Filing (MFJ) filing status, the taxpayer must be legally married on or before the last day of the tax year, and both parties must agree to file and must sign a joint return.

To qualify as a Qualifying Widow/Widow (QW), the taxpayer’s spouse must have died in either of the previous two tax years, and the taxpayer must maintain a household for dependent children.

In addition, non-resident aliens generally cannot file jointly as married if either spouse’s spouse was a non-resident alien at any time during the tax year.

Definition of joint return marriage

Whether a taxpayer is considered married on the last day of the tax year is determined by the laws of the applicable state or jurisdiction. Legally concluded same-sex marriages are recognized for all federal tax purposes.

Taxpayers who are divorced or separated based on a final divorce or sole support order at any time during the tax year are considered unmarried for the entire year and cannot file a joint return.

The benefits of joint returns

Married and not-widowed taxpayers must choose one of two filing statuses: Married Filer Jointly (MFJ) or Married Filer Separately (MFS). If one spouse receives most of the income and doesn’t itemize deductions, filing jointly may result in less tax.

If both spouses have the same income, and if one or both have medical expenses, casualty losses, or miscellaneous deductions, filing separately may result in less tax because the joint and individual tax rates may be the same and the adjusted gross The income floor will be lower. Anytime both spouses receive taxable income, the tax should be calculated jointly and separately, and the return should be filed using the state that provides the minimum tax.Be

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