Question

I’m newly married and have a question about filing return(s). If I got married in 2020, should I file a joint return or separate return year married?

Answer

There are filing advantages and disadvantages to both married filing jointly and married filing separately.

If you file married filing separately, you’ll probably lose some tax benefits. Many tax benefits are available only to couples who file married filing jointly, like:

  • Tuition and fees deduction
  • Student loan interest deduction
  • Tax-free exclusion of U.S. Bond interest
  • Tax-free exclusion of Social Security benefits
  • Credit for the elderly and disabled
  • Child and dependent care credit
  • Earned Income Credit (EIC)
  • American Opportunity or Lifetime Learning credits

However, if choose to file a joint return, both you and your spouse have “joint and several liability.” This means:

  • Both of you are responsible for the taxes and interest or penalties due on the return.
  • You’re both responsible for any underpayment of tax that might be due later.
  • If one spouse doesn’t pay the tax due, the other might have to.

If you’re unsure of how you want to file taxes on the tax deadline day, you can file a joint extension with your spouse. Then, you can decide how you want to go about filing taxes later on.

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