Single Vs. Married When Filing for Taxes

Married people need to combine their W-2 incomes to report it.

Married people need to combine their W-2 incomes to report it.

Tax filing is fairly similar for both married and single people, with several exceptions. Both single and married people will file either a 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ form, depending on their incomes. For example, those earning under $100,000 per year and less than $1,500 in interest can use the 1040EZ. However, if both parties work, married people will likely have more deductions than single people.


Married people need to include both names and social security numbers on their tax form. Single people only need to write down their own name and social security number. Moreover, single people can only check the "Single" box under the "Filing Status" on 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ forms. Married people have two options: "Married Filing Jointly" or "Married Filing Separately." You can actually calculate your income tax refunds or payments due the IRS using both methods if you are married. Use the method that allows you the largest possible return or smallest payment.

Calculating Income and Expenses

One difference between single and married tax filers is how they calculate their incomes and expenses. Most companies will send out W-2 forms to employees in January. Single people will only receive one W-2 form, unless they worked multiple jobs during the year. Married people who both work will receive at least two W-2 forms. Consequently, married people will need to combine the totals of both W-2 forms to determine their gross income, unlike single people. Married people will also need to add their interest or dividend incomes, while single people can report the incomes directly from their 1099 forms. Similarly, married people can also combine various expenses such as student loans or moving expenses.


Married people can claim more exemptions, which can offset taxable income and lower a couple's taxes. For example, you can claim yourself and your spouse as an exemption if you are married. Moreover, you may also have a child or dependent that you can claim as an exemption. Single people can only claim one exemption, unless they are divorced and living with children.


As of 2009, married people are entitled to twice the standard deduction of single people, according to the Internal Revenue Service. Deductions are usually reported on the back page of 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ forms. Deductions also offset taxable income, which can lead to larger tax returns. Married people who itemize their deductions instead of claiming a standard deduction can combine allowable deductions. For example, a married couple may own a home. Itemizing their deductions on "Schedule A" may be advantageous, especially if they can claim more deductions than the standard deduction allows. Deductions you can itemize include medical and dental, gifts and losses due to theft. Single people can also itemize, but must deduct just their own expenses.


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