Your wedding is meant to be one of the happiest days of your life. When you get to marry the person that you love, it changes your life in so many ways.
There will be a number of big changes to your life, but there will be a number of smaller ones too – changes that you perhaps hadn’t thought of. Such as filing your taxes jointly, rather than individually.
However, marriage is a trend that is currently declining, as more and more people are choosing not to tie the knot. If you are one of many couples who are choosing not to marry their partner, you might be wondering what this means for your taxes.
In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at if it is possible to file your taxes jointly with your partner, even if you are not married. So, if you want to find out the answer to this question, keep on reading!
What Does “Filing Jointly” Mean?
First things first, let’s take a look at what “filing jointly” means. As you will be aware, when you file your taxes, you usually file a single tax return which only has your information on it.
Up until you get married, this will be the only option available to you as you are technically a single person. However, when you get married, your options for filing your taxes will open up, and you will be able to file jointly.
As you have probably guessed, filing jointly simply means that you will file a joint tax return for yourself and your spouse. So, rather than filing two individual returns, you will be able to file one between you and your husband or wife.
This is an option that has been available to married couples for quite some time, and it is generally very popular.
When you file jointly, the tax return will contain both your own information, and your spouse’s information too. So, along with your income and deductions, your spouse’s income and deductions will also be listed on the same tax return.
As we mentioned earlier, a lot of people are now choosing not to marry their partner, and this has got a lot of people wondering if you can file jointly, even if you aren’t married. Let’s take a look.
Can You File Taxes Jointly If Not Married?
In order to be eligible for filing jointly, you and your partner must be considered “common law married”. Common law marriages are not the same as legal marriages, and this does make the terminology quite complicated.
Especially as different States have different definitions of common law marriage, and some do not recognize it at all.
If you are legally married to your spouse, then you will be able to file jointly without any issue. However, if you simply consider yourself to be “common law married”, then it is more complex.
The IRS does not define this term, and so whether, or not, you are common law married will depend on the State in which you live.
If you live in a State that recognizes common law marriages, and you fit the criteria, then you will be able to file your taxes jointly with your partner.
Once you have been recognized as common law married in one State, and have filed a joint return there, you will be able to move to a State that doesn’t recognize common law marriages, and continue to file jointly.
There are a lot of misconceptions about common law marriages. Many people believe that you are common law married if you simply live with your partner, but this isn’t the case.
One of the main criteria is to live with your partner with the intent of being married, however there are a number of other things that are taken into consideration. These include age, legal capacity to marry, and intention to be “married”.
A lot of States also require proof of your intent, this might include things such as a joint bank account with your “spouse”, shared debt, or changing your last name so that you both share the same last name.
If the only box that you tick is living with your partner, then most States will not consider you to be common law married.
Instead, you are simply cohabiting, which isn’t enough to allow you to file your taxes jointly. So you either have to be legally married, or common law married to file your taxes jointly.
Is It Better To File Jointly Or Single?
There are lots of couples who are legally married, yet still choose to file their taxes separately. When you get married, there is no requirement to file jointly, this is simply an option that becomes available to you.
So, you might be wondering if it is better to file jointly or single. Let’s take a look.
Generally, it is much better to file jointly if you are legally or common law married. This is what the IRS wants couples to do, and as such they encourage couples to do so by extending lots of benefits to those who file jointly.
There are several different tax breaks that are only available to couples who file jointly, rather than individually. So, the only way to get these tax breaks is to file jointly with your spouse.
However, the best option for you will depend on your situation. Occasionally, it is better to file separately from your spouse.
This is mainly the case if there is a big disparity between your incomes, as you could lose access to low-pay deductions when filing jointly. So, before you file your taxes, it is best to research which option is better for you and your partner.
In short, in order to file your taxes jointly you have to be either legally married or common law married.
If you are not considered to be common law married, or don’t have legal proof that you are married, then you will be unable to file your taxes jointly.
Thank you for reading!