Tax Filing: Jointly or Separately?


By: Alex Franch, BS EA

2015_02_12 Tax Filing Joint or SeparateMost married taxpayers know that they have the option to file jointly or separately for tax filing. The Federal income tax system prods taxpayers toward joint filing. This results in the loss of certain deductions and credits. Also, the inclusion of Social Security benefits is taxable income for those who file separately. Assuming you are better off filing a Federal joint return, when might you consider filing separately? Here are three scenarios for tax filing:

Different Residency Periods

If a taxpayer and spouse are part-year Massachusetts residents and they had different residency periods, they have to file separately on their Massachusetts return. For example, John moves to Massachusetts from Texas in February. He moved due to a new job as a snow plow operator. Marsha remains in their old state to finish out the school year with the kids. She does not move to Massachusetts until July. They are required to file separate Massachusetts tax returns. Note, they are better off in this case, since Marsha’s Texas income will be excluded from taxation in Massachusetts for her tax filing.


If a taxpayer has certain unpaid debts, they may opt to file separately. If a taxpayer is in arrears with student loans, back taxes, or child support, their spouse may benefit from filing separately. Your refund can be garnished by various government authorities, and if there is a nominal difference in tax liability, Married Filing Separately (MFS) may be the way to go. Also, if one spouse expects a tax balance in the current year, Married Filing Separately can be appropriate. For example, John and Marsha are filing a joint return. Marsha had some unemployment income and had no tax withheld. They do not expect any Federal tax liability. However, they do expect to owe Massachusetts. They can file separately on Massachusetts only so John is not liable for the taxes owed on Marsha’s unemployment income.

Squirrely Business

If your husband is Vito Corleone, our official advice is, file separately. Oh, and never ask him about his business. If a spouse has questionable business practices, that taxpayer can file separately. This shields them form the associated tax risks.

By the way, If you are stuck at home for Snowpocalypse 3.0, Vito makes for a good trilogy read.

Questions About Tax Filing?

Are you clear about your tax filing status? If you have thoughts, questions or concerns regarding how your taxes are filed, WorthTax uses a triple check accuracy system. We also go though great lengths to protect your information on secured servers. Please feel free to contact us, leave your comments below or post to on our FacebookGoogle+ or LinkedIn pages.

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Tax Season is Here!

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For more information, call Alex Franch at 781.789.7200. WorthTax has locations in Norwell, Dedham, and Weymouth, Massachussetts.
Alex Franch

Mr. Franch is a Tax Specialist and Partner at Joseph Cahill & Associates / WorthTax. He has a diverse background including a Bachelor of Science from Boston College in Mathematics and extensive military service. Mr. Franch is an Enrolled Agent and has eight years of tax preparation experience. He has been serving individuals, families, and businesses for several years with tax and financial planning strategies and is a junior partner with the firm. Mr. Franch is licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) with a Series 6, 63, 65, and 7, and by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Insurance.

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