The way you file your tax returns actually determines many things such as the deductions you get, the amount of tax you owe, and whether you qualify for credits or not. If you’re thinking about taxes now that you’re newly married, filing jointly or separately is an important decision.

Filing Taxes Married Jointly

If you are married, you and your spouse can file a joint return. If you file a joint return, you both must include all your income, exemptions, deductions, and credits on that return. Even if you or your spouse had no income or deductions, you can file a joint return.

Filing Taxes Married Separately

If you and your spouse file separate returns, you should each report only your own income, exemptions, deductions, and credits on your individual return. You can file a separate return even if only one of you had income. However, the married filing separately status rarely works to lower the family tax bill.

Tax breaks you will miss if you file separately

If you decide filing taxes married jointly is not for you, and file a separate tax return, many tax breaks will be limited or completely unavailable to you:

  • You cannot claim standard deductions; if your spouse itemizes deductions, you have to itemize them too.
  • Unable to take Child and Dependent Care Credit in most cases
  • You won’t get the the Earned Income Credit.
  • You are not allowed to exclude interest form U.S. savings bonds that you used for education expenses.
  • Credit for elderly or disable is not given to you until and unless you spent a year away from your spouse.
  • You cannot take any education credits
  • You will get a smaller amount of Child Tax Credit than you would on a joint return
  • You cannot take an exclusion for adoption expenses or the Adoption Credit in most case

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