Taxes: Should You File Jointly or Separately?

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Even after tax season has come and gone, one of the main topics of discussion at a recent seminar was: what are the benefits versus drawbacks associated with married couples filing separately? An excellent question. However, just like with so many other excellent questions, the answer will depend on the circumstances. Below are a few examples of cases where it may be a good idea to keep this one aspect of your life together separate.

  1. You or your hubby has made little money and had lots of medical expenses. By filing separately, the proportions of the two may work out so that you or your hubby can itemize the medical expenses and save well-needed dollars.
  2. Your partner uses questionable techniques for keeping his tax dollars to himself. While tempting, such actions are illegal, and if you sign the same tax return, you, too, are responsible. If you file separately, your chances of arguing in front of a jury that you didn’t know are much better.
  3. Your marriage is crumbling. If you are fairly certain that your twosome isn’t going to last, you may want to file separately in order to minimize the paperwork you need to do together later. It is also important to file separately if you are concerned that he is not being 100% honest on his tax reporting.

Last but not least, it is imperative that you stay up to date with the newest rules and limits for the different tax brackets. Taxation is a complicated matter – but you do have options. When you add knowledge to the pot, you can make an informed decision.

Should you prepare your own taxes?

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Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.