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livelaughlove21's avatar

Pros and cons of filing joint vs. separate tax returns?

Asked by livelaughlove21 (15083 points ) August 1st, 2012

I got married in May of this year. Since tax season will be here before we know it, I’m wondering if we should file our taxes together or separate and what the difference is.

I only worked a few months out of the year because I’m a full time college student. He’ll be bringing home about $50K this year. We’re purchasing a home (in his name only) that will close mid-September.

We’ve had very simple tax returns in the past. I usually do it online myself for both of us. Until now, we didn’t own anything except our vehicles and we have no children, investments, deductions, etc.

I don’t know if it matters, but he’s listed as married with 1 deduction on his W4 and I haven’t worked since we’ve been married, so my W4 for the year stated single with 1 deduction. Should we keep our deductions at 1 each? We don’t want to owe at the end of the year and we like the chunk of change we get in the form of a refund each year, but he gets over 30% of his check taken out each week and, since he’s supporting me and we’re buying a home, we can use all the money we can get throughout the year.

So, what are the pros and cons of filing a joint tax return?

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9 Answers

livelaughlove21's avatar

@gailcalled I’m confused. I got an error message on that first link and the third link is a site about babies…which we don’t have. The second one may be helpful, but I’m looking for opinions from actual people who have done both and can give me advice on what would be best in my situation.

ETA: I believe I found the article you tried to give me in the first link.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Generally filing joint returns will treat you better than separate. There are also education credits and deductions that will really help your spouse out if you file joint, but probably will not do you a lot of good if you file separate. How much longer will you be in school?

gailcalled's avatar

The advice is specific to you and your husband’s condition, which will never be exactly the same as someone else’s.

Sorry about the links. I will fix them.

http://askthemoneycoach.com/
http://budgeting.thenest.com/
http://taxes.about.com

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I graduate in May of 2014. This is the longest I’ve been unemployed, and that’ll change in December. I took time off to do an unpaid internship and next semester will be too hectic to work, but after that I’ll be working part time at a bank, where I’m still TECHNICALLY an on-call employee and can basically come and go as I please.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I looked it up to be sure, but the education credits cannot be claimed by married taxpayers filing separate returns. That’s just one angle, lots of things come into play.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I’m not totally sure what an education credit is. I get $1000 each year when I file on my own for being a full time student. My loans aren’t building interest yet, if that matters.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@livelaughlove21 There are three credits for “qualified expenses”, generally tuition, etc,. A credit reduces your taxes dollar for dollar, so it’s better than a deduction. Student loan interest is allowed when you start paying on your loans, but look at the forms your lenders send you to be sure it isn’t accruing.

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