How to File Separate Income Taxes When Married

Married individuals have some choices when it comes to filing taxes.

Married individuals have some choices when it comes to filing taxes.

Income taxes are a part of life form most American citizens. While state tax regulations may vary slightly between individual states, federal regulations for filing federal tax returns affect everyone equally. One of the major decisions in filing your return involves your filing status. Although many married individuals file jointly, certain situations, such as one person’s unreimbursed medical expenses or a large amount of miscellaneous deductions, may make you decide to file separately, even though you and your spouse are still married and living together.

Gather all your tax information, including interest earned forms from your bank, employers’ W-2 forms, 1099s for self-employment and all the records that list the amounts of deductions you will claim for the filing period. Obtain the federal Individual Income Tax Return 1040 or 1040A for the current year. Read the requirements for filing these forms to determine which one you qualify for, depending on your specific employment and financial situations.

Fill in your personal information in the top section of the form, including your name, address and social security number. Proceed to the second section that lists filing status. Check the box that specifies you are married filing separately. Fill in your spouse’s social security number and full name in the space provided.

Determine whether you or your spouse will claim your dependents as exemptions. According to the Internal Revenue Service, you can’t claim dependents on more than one tax return. In the Exemptions portion of your income tax return form, fill in your dependents’ names, Social Security numbers and their relationship to you.

Complete the remainder of your income tax return as accurately as possible, listing the amounts of your income, taxes withheld and deductions. According to the Internal Revenue Service, both you and your spouse must use the same method for deductions on your separate forms, both taking the standard deduction or both itemizing deductions. Do not claim items you aren’t entitled to claim as a married person filing separately.

Make a copy of your completed forms for your personal records. Sign and date your completed tax return. Include any supporting schedules, worksheets or forms, as well as copies of your W-2s and 1099s. Obtain the state income tax return form from your state and fill it out according to the instructions, keeping your filing status the same. Send the completed federal tax forms to the Internal Revenue Service, and the completed state forms to your state tax office prior to the April 15th filing deadline.

Items you will need

  • Tax forms and instructions for the current year
  • Forms 1040 or W-2s
  • Interest statements


  • Determine your best filing status by completing the forms both ways, filing joint and filing separately, before you send in your tax return.
  • Begin completing your tax forms well before the April 15th deadline to avoid feeling rushed or unprepared. Filing later than this deadline may result in penalties if you owe tax.


  • Consult a tax professional or the Internal Revenue Service for assistance in filing your tax returns. Professionals stay informed on the continually-changing tax laws and may help you avoid costly errors.

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About the Author

Laura Wallace Henderson, a professional freelance writer, began writing in 1989. Her articles appear online at Biz Mojo, Walden University and various other websites. She has served as the co-editor for "Kansas Women: Focus on Health." She continues to empower and encourage women everywhere by promoting health, career growth and business management skills.

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