When you tie the knot, one of the things that changes is the filing status on your tax returns. It's best for many married couples to file their taxes together using the Married Filing Jointly status, but this isn't necessarily the right choice for all couples. For example, filing separately can be beneficial if one of you has high medical expenses, if you don't have children and one of you makes more than the other, or if you think your spouse might be cheating on her taxes. Filing separately is much like filing as single, though there are a few differences.
Begin filling out your IRS form 1040 or 1040-EZ as normal, selecting the "Married Filing Separately" filing status by marking box 3. Enter your spouse's full name in the indicated space beside box 3 and enter his Social Security number in the marked location in the upper right corner of the form. Repeat this on your spouse's form 1040 or 1040-EZ, placing your name and Social Security number where indicated.
Claim yourself as an exemption, and fill out your wage information using any W-2 and 1099 forms you have from employers, contract work or investments. Next, follow the instructions on the form to calculate your adjusted gross income; your spouse should do the same.
Decide whether you and your spouse want to itemize your deductions or if you want to take the IRS standard deduction. The IRS requires that you both file the same type of deductions, so you have to make sure that you aren't choosing the standard deduction while your spouse itemizes or vice versa.
Fill out the Tax and Credits section on your 1040 or 1040-EZ, claiming the deduction type you and your spouse agreed on. You and your spouse should only claim the same tax credits if you both qualify for them; since you are filing separately your tax return will only reflect your individual tax situation.
Finish filling out your 1040 or 1040-EZ, determining whether you owe taxes or are due a refund. You and your spouse should mail in your tax returns separately along with any required tax forms or payments.
- Filing taxes separately can be a complex process, especially if you choose to itemize deductions. Consult a tax professional or accountant if you need help with your filing.
Born in West Virginia, Jack Gerard now lives in Kentucky. A writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience, he has written both articles and poetry for publication in magazines and online. A former nationally ranked sport fencer, Gerard also spent several years as a fencing coach and trainer.