Definition

Joint Return

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A tax return filed by two individuals on the basis of their marital status, either at the end of the year or at the time of the demise of one of the two individuals is known as Joint Return. There are different sub-parts and eligibility criteria for a joint return. The main thing to keep in mind is that there are possible tax benefits that can be reaped due to joint filing if the filing is suitable to them in a certain format. This is the reason several people file together after getting married.

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Summary
  • The process of filing for a tax return together with a spouse is known as a Joint Tax Return.
  • Joint Filing can mean certain tax benefits for the couple.
  • To meet the eligibility for Joint Filing, one has to be married for the duration of the year of filing.
  • In case of loss of a spouse in the previous two years, the taxpayer is eligible for filing as a qualified widower.

What are the ways of Filing Joint Return?

Generally, there are two ways, the first one is the Married Filing Jointly or MFJ method. The other is known as the Married Filing Separately or MFS. There is also a provision of Single Filing Status and Head of Household which is reserved for certain circumstances.

A joint return is indicative of the fact that the couple has chosen to make their return filing together, choosing the Married Filing Jointly option. In this case, all the incomes, credits, deductions, and expenses of the couple are listed and filed together. In this case, the accountability of the tax returns lies collectively and individually on both the members filing together.

What is the eligibility for filing a Joint Return?

In order to file a joint return, the filing status of the taxpayer should either be (MFJ) Married Filing Jointly or that of a qualifying widow/er (QW). To meet the eligibility of the MFJ status, the taxpayers should be legally married to one another either on or before the last day of the respective tax year, besides being consensual and willing to sign the joint return together.

For the (QW) qualifying widow/er, the death of the spouse should have occurred in the previous two tax years. The other qualification is that the taxpayer should be maintaining a household for the benefit of a dependent child.

How does a Joint Return define married?

The verdict on whether or not the taxpayers are legally married on the last day of the marriages are recognised and legally entered for the purpose of federal tax. In case, the taxpayers decide to separate or divorce at a given point in the tax year, they are considered to be unmarried and non-eligible for filing a joint return.

What are some Joint Return benefits?

For married taxpayers who choose the MFJ or MFS option for joint filing, it results in a lesser tax deduction. This is in the case one of the two earns substantially more than the other, the itemisation of deductions will not be done.

In case of separate filing, and if both spouses earn the same amount of money, or have other implications such as casualty losses, medical expenses or different other miscellaneous deductions, the gross income floors are bound to be lesser. Ideally, when both spouses earn amounts in the Tax bracket of income, the payable tax should be figured both individually and jointly and then the return should be filed choosing the option that provides the lowest tax.

What is the significance of a joint tax return?

When a couple chooses to file a Joint Return, they are both jointly responsible for any possible penalties that might emerge from the tax return unless anyone of the two claims for an innocent spouse relief. In this case, they may be relieved from paying penalties in case of omitted or wrongly reported items if the claim is found justified.

While the overall liability of tax could be more in either one of the cases, MFS or MFJ, depending on different circumstances, which is why several people calculate returns in both cases and then choose the best option.

Can You File a Joint Tax Return?

Depending upon the several eligibility criteria mentioned above, you can determine whether or not you can file a joint tax return and whether or not it is the correct thing for you to do.

Explain what is a Head of Household?

According to the IRS, the Head of Household is described as the person who is single but financially responsible for at least one other family member. In case a single mother who's been divorced for several years has children to support and pays for at least half the cost of the upkeep of the house and the children, which includes utilities, property taxes, rents, etc. and her children are below the age of 19, she can make the head of the household claim.

What is a tax return?

A tax return is the criteria and forms used to calculate the eligible taxes that are owed to the IRS or the Internal Revenue services. There are different kinds of tax returns, individual, joint and subsections of the same.

Why is the tax return importance?

A tax return is an essential part of the tax collection efforts made by the IRS. This is the reason they recommend that any individual taxpayer should keep the records for the taxes paid in past seven years. In other words, this is the money that we owe to the government (depending upon the eligibility criteria) and that needs to be paid on time.