Wedding season starts Memorial Day weekend, and the tax experts at Tax Help MD are advising couples who have tied-the-not on how to file their taxes. Whether getting married for the first time or happily married for twenty years, there are choices to consider when filing a couple’s tax return. Many assume that once they’ve been hitched, they’re filing jointly. The experts at Tax Help MD want couples to know that while filing jointly may be the best option for most married couples, there are times when filing “Married, filing separately” is the best option.
For tax purposes, two people must file as ‘married’ if they were legally married on December 31st. It might seem strange for a couple who is happily married to file their taxes separately, but a tax return is not the place to show affection, according to Tax Help MD.
In some cases, filing separately could save money that would otherwise be paid to the IRS. Tax Help MD’s financial specialists have provided the following scenarios married couples should think about when planning to file their taxes:
If one person in the marriage typically itemizes his or her taxes, and the other doesn’t.
If one person in the marriage has had a low income over the past year and a lot of medical expenses.
If a couple files separately, a typically-non-itemizing partner will be able to receive a standard deduction. If the couple were to file jointly, they may lose out on a large deduction if the one spouse doesn’t have enough to itemize to make up for the non-itemizing spouse. Lofty medical bills and insufficient income should also come into play when thinking about filing separately. The reason for this is that there is a 7.5% adjusted gross income threshold for deducting unreimbursed medical expenses. Filing separately in this case may make it easier to pass this threshold and allow the couple to deduct more of their medical costs from their income taxes.
For tax payers who live in a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin), they won’t be able to get many of the benefits of filing separately because they will most likely be required to split their income and deductions 50/50.
For most couples, filing separately has major drawbacks, according to Tax Help MD. It means not being able to take many tax credits including all education credits, the elderly and disabled credit, and the child care tax credit. It also means not being able to deduct interest on student loans.
Filing jointly will be the most beneficial for the majority of married couples, according to Tax Help MD. It is especially useful if the combined incomes stay within the same tax bracket that they would be in if they were filing separately because they’d be squeezing more earnings in the same bracket.
More tax credits may also be available when filing jointly since the income thresholds are raised for those that are married and filing jointly. It’s possible that if one person in the marriage doesn’t qualify for a deduction filing alone, that the two would qualify filing together. This is especially true if one person in the marriage makes less money than the other.
Married couples looking for tax help should seek a professional such as Tax Help MD to run through their options for both of the filing statuses to find out which will give them the best result before filing.
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