Question

Can my spouse and I change our filing status from married filing jointly to married filing separately?

Answer

Yes, even if you’ve filed jointly for years, you can change your filing status to married filing separately on a new return whenever you wish. You won’t pay a penalty for changing your filing status. However, when choosing your filing status, you should calculate your federal and state returns using each filing status before making any changes. Then, you can see which return results in the larger refund or the smaller balance due.

If you change your filing status from joint to separate, you’ll usually pay more tax. That’s because many of the following items are reduced or not allowed when married filing separately:

  • Credits
  • Deductions
  • Exclusions

So, you should do your research before changing your filing status from joint to separate.

What adjusted gross income (AGI) amount do I use if I filed jointly with a different spouse in 2019 or my filing status has changed from 2019?

If you change your filing status from single last year to married filing jointly this year and you’re being asked for your prior-year AGI, you should use your individual adjusted gross income (AGI) from your respective 2019 returns. So, add together your 2019 AGI and your spouse’s 2019 AGI to fill out the AGI line on your joint 2020 return.

Related Topics

Related Resources

Dependent Relationship Options

Confused by dependent relationship options? Find out how to choose the right option. Get tax answers at H&R Block.

Amend Your Return To Correct Filing Status

Did you use the wrong filing status by mistake? Discover how to amend your filing status. Learn more from the tax experts at H&R Block.

Requirements for Claiming a Dependent

What are the requirements for claiming your parent as a dependent? Find out who qualifies for a dependent on your taxes.

Alabama Taxes

Looking for more info on Alabama taxes? Find out who pays Alabama state taxes, how to find your tax rate, who to contact & more from H&R Block.