Married filing jointly is one of the 5 filing statuses. Married taxpayers who choose this status will file one shared tax return. Selecting this status will impact the tax rate a taxpayer pays and other tax calculations.
How do I know if married filing jointly is an option for me?
If you're married as of the last day of the tax year (December 31), you're eligible to choose this filing status. You could also choose married filing separately. If only one of you is earning income, no problem-you can still choose married filing jointly.
Why would I choose to file jointly?
Filing as married filing jointly usually has better tax implications for married couples. Tax rates can be lower, and certain tax credits (such as the earned income tax credit and education credits) are available. Less often, especially when married couples are both high earners, filing married filing separately can save on taxes.
There are other reasons a married taxpayer might choose not to file jointly. For example, filing separately is a way to protect a concerned spouse from any potential legal or tax issues.
Will my spouse and I both need to sign?
If you choose married filing jointly, you'll both need to sign. No matter who signs first, you'll share equal responsibility for the full amount you owe.
Anything else I should keep in mind about this status?
The IRS still has the authority to collect any taxes owed. That means that if you divorce, you'll still be responsible for outstanding taxes from your earlier joint returns. If a spouse dies during the year, and the surviving spouse has not yet remarried, that spouse can file jointly in the year of death.