IRS Rules for Filing Jointly the Year You Are Married

Consider the tax consequences related to marriage.
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Newlyweds, having faced the struggles of planning a wedding together, must now tackle the difficult task of merging life’s responsibilities. And while planning for every speed bump along the way represents an impossible challenge, planning for the inevitable tasks, such as joining finances and paying taxes should take a front seat on your journey.

Marriage Defined

The Internal Revenue Service utilizes some basic guidelines to help determine if it considered you married during the tax year. Married couples living together, living apart without a legal separation or divorce or in the process of finalizing a divorce on the final day of the tax year are considered married in the eyes of the IRS. Those living together in states that recognize common law marriage also qualify as married under IRS guidelines.

Filing Facts

Choosing the married filing jointly status requires you to combine all income and allows you to combine exemptions and deductions. When filing a joint return, both you and your spouse must sign the return. Special circumstances, including injury, disease and military deployment, allow spouses to sign for the other. A signed power of attorney form, which allows you to sign formal documents in the absence of your spouse, can help ease the struggle of those with spouses who travel frequently.


Use IRS Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ to file your taxes. Those without dependents and under the age of 65 can file using Form 1040EZ. Form 1040EZ does have limitations, including not being able to itemize deductions, leaving some couples forced to file using Form 1040 or 1040A. Form 1040 and 1040A allows taxpayers to itemize deductions. Check the appropriate box, married filing jointly, on the tax return to indicate your filing status.

Things to Keep in Mind

Of course, like everything in life exceptions to the rules exist. If your spouse passed away during the tax year, the IRS considers you still married on the final day of the tax year. While choosing the filing status married filing jointly should result in a lower tax than you would encounter if filing separately, under the filing status married filing separately, you should calculate your taxes using both filing statuses. Choose the filing status that results in the lowest tax for you and your spouse. Consult an accountant or contact the IRS with any questions related to filing your tax return correctly.

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