Real Questions from our Reddit Ask Me Anything – Married Filing Jointly

March 18, 2019 : Joe Davis

Editor’s Note: In mid-January, we hosted a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) with Andy, a director in The Tax Institute at H&R Block. Reddit is a community-based website with over a million topic forums and AMAs are places for people to ask anything to an expert on a topic. Andy answered some of the Internet’s most burning tax questions, ranging from tax reform to student loans, marriage, freelance work, and more. This is the second post in a four-part series. Read the first post here.

Were you recently married, or your significant other happens to work in multiple states? Check out a few of his answers about marriage and filing jointly below.

Filing Jointly

Q:  Recent newlywed here. How should I decide whether to file jointly moving forward?

A:  Congrats! It depends upon the individual situation and whether either spouse has any outstanding debts, but most married couples get a monetary break for filing jointly. You should chat with your spouse to decide what’s best for the both of you.

Q:  My husband got his green card in November. I read somewhere you could not file jointly if your spouse was not a permanent resident. Can we still file jointly if he only had his green card for two months out of the year?

A:  There’s a lot of misinformation out there. You can file jointly if you’d like. Just make an election to treat your spouse as a U.S. resident for tax purposes. If you do that, you can file jointly no matter how long your spouse has had their green card.

Deductions

Q:  I’m in the tax bracket above $75,000 and below $100,000, I will be married filing jointly, should I take the standard deduction or itemize?

A: If you’re using the married filing jointly status, your standard deduction will be $24,000. You need to add up all your itemized deductions (mortgage interest, charitable donations, state taxes up to $10,000, etc.) to determine if they’ll exceed $24,000. If not, you’ll be better with the standard deduction. But remember, you’re not allowed to deduct PMI this year unless Congress passes something to allow that deduction again.

Q:  I had a lot of unexpected medical expenses last year. One way I stayed positive was thinking “at least I’ll have a lot to deduct next year.” I started looking at how it works, can I only deduct total medical expenses minus 7.5% of my AGI? Are there any advantages of filing jointly or separately? 

A: Sounds like it was a tough year, love that you’re staying positive. Here’s a breakdown of how medical expense deductions work. Medical expenses are subject to the 7.5% floor, meaning that for you to get a tax benefit, the medical expenses over the 7.5% floor plus all your other itemized deductions (like charitable donations and mortgage interest) must exceed the standard deduction. If you’re filing your return as single, the standard deduction will be $12,000. Hang in there.

Remote Work

Q:  Hey there! My significant works at a company in Missouri but works remotely at least 3/4 of the year. We live in Indiana. Last year we did our taxes and basically paid for that income twice, once for each state. Is there a way to avoid this?

A:  Yes, there definitely is a way to avoid that. If Indiana is your home state (state of residence in tax nerd language), you can claim a credit on your Indiana state return for at least some of the taxes you paid to Missouri on the income that’s reported on both returns. This helps eliminate the double taxation you’re currently experiencing. You may want to amend last year’s return too, do that as well.

Whose Tax Is It Anyway

Q: My fiancé owes a significant amount of back taxes. Once we’re married, will his back taxes become our/my back taxes?

A: Your fiancé will be yours to have and hold for better, worse, richer, poorer, sickness, and in-health, but you won’t be holding the bag on their back taxes. Your fiancé’s tax liability for 2018 and any years prior will belong only to them, even after you’re married. You’re marrying the person, not the back taxes they owe. However, any back taxes you guys accrue after you’re married will stay in the family forever with both of you together. If you’re able to file as an injured spouse, you’d still get your share of the refund even if your partner’s is offset.

Q:  I made $1,185 last year and payroll taxes were taken out. Do I even need to file?

A: As long as you’re not using the married filing separate filing status, you’re not required to file.

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