As a married couple, you can either file jointly or separately on your annual income tax return. Your election to file one or the other is a distinct decision each year. If it is in your best interests to file separately in the current year, you can do so, even if you filed jointly in prior years.
Tax Return Election
Most couples benefit more from joint filing. In fact, the IRS establishes many deductions and credits to get couples to file a joint return, according TurboTax. The standard deduction for a joint return is nearly double that of married couples who file separately. A rare exception is when one spouse has high medical costs that don't exceed thresholds for a deduction without a separate filing.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.