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Married Filing Separate versus Joint Filing Your Denver Tax Return

May 23, 2018

Many Americans are married and faced yearly with the determination to either file a tax return jointly or separately. Often couples will determine to file in a preceding fashion without taking into consideration the implications or benefits of filing in a particular method. While a majority of people elect to file jointly for the extended tax benefits, there do exists opportunities and reasons for filing separately that can have a positive impact on the return.

Before determining which method will work best in your particular situation, first we must analyze the benefits of filing both a joint return and separately. These two methods have distinct differences between them as one combines the two individuals income and tax burden into one return and married, filing separately (MFS) individualizes the tax impact into each partner’s return specifically.


The most common type of return and typically a more beneficial route, filing a joint return is often selected as the method of submission for couples. These married filing jointly returns become eligible when a couple has been married for at least one day in the preceding tax year.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements observe married couples by the date of their wedding or legalization of a marriage. Even if the pair becomes official on December 31, then they are legally viewed as a married couple for that tax year and thus must file either a joint or separate return.

Filing jointly allows taxpayers to recoup the benefits associated with a variety of credits and Social Security benefits. These factors often influence the decision and allow people to reap a better outcome on their taxes.


If choosing to complete a married filing separately return then individuals must be aware of these credits for which they will automatically be disqualified. “Filing separately can disqualify or limit your use of potentially valuable tax breaks, including (but not limited to):
  • The child and dependent care tax credit
  • The adoption credit
  • The Earned Income Credit
  • Tax-free exclusion of U.S. bond interest
  • Tax-free exclusion of Social Security benefits
  • The credit for the elderly and disabled
  • The deduction for college tuition expenses
  • The student loan interest deduction
  • The American Opportunity Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit for higher education expenses
  • The deduction of net capital losses
  • Traditional IRA deductions
  • Roth IRA contributions
MFS taxpayers must both claim the standard deduction or must both itemize their deductions.” The two cannot be split even if filing separate returns, the qualified application for one will automatically apply on both returns.

While there are a few benefits to filing separately, such as the separation of tax liability from a spouse, the main option could be administered to tax debt accumulated from a spouse. If one partner has a significant amount of tax burden or liability for which the spouse does not want to become also liable for then a separate return is necessary. Should the couple elect to file a joint return then the spouse assumes all liability previously responsible to the one.

In most scenarios, filing a joint return will be more beneficial but both options should be viewed as viable since each can be administered on a yearly basis. If you need help deciding what method will work best for you, the tax preparation and accounting experts at Bloch, Rothman, and Associates will be pleased to assist you in filing a return. Our associates can help ensure you receive the best refund possible and file in a method most specific to your individual tax situation. Known for providing expert tax advice and assistance, they can also help with a variety of accounting, bookkeeping and payroll options on an individual or business level. Whether you need an explanation for a random tax form, are potentially in need of appropriate representation in tax court, or could use help in potentially a variety of other various services our tax experts are ready and willing to assist. Call 303-321-7160 or contact us for your initial free no obligation consultation.