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Joint Return

Joint Return

What Is a Joint Return?

A joint return is a tax return filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on the new, simplified Form 1040 (starting around 2018) by two married taxpayers whose filing status is married filing jointly (MFJ) or by a widowed taxpayer whose filing status is Qualifying Widow or Widower (QW). A joint return permits these taxpayers to consolidate their tax liability and report their income, deductions, and credits on a similar joint return.

How a Joint Return Works

A joint return permits eligible taxpayers to figure out their taxes utilizing ideal joint return tax brackets, tax rates, and tax benefits. Subsequently, married couples who file a joint return generally pay a lower overall tax than married couples who file two separate returns.

Federal Income Tax Bracket for 2019 (filed in April 2020)
ย SingleMarried Filing JointlyMarried Filing SeperatelyHead of Household
10%$0 โ€“ $9,875$0 โ€“ 19,750$0 โ€“ $9,700$0 โ€“ $13,850
12%$9,876 โ€“ $40,125ย $19,751 โ€“ $80,250$9,701 โ€“ $39,475$13,851 โ€“ $52,850
22%$40,126 โ€“ $85,525$80,251 โ€“ $171,050$39,476 โ€“ $84,200$52,851 โ€“ $84,200
24%$85,526 โ€“ $163,300$171,051 โ€“ $326,600$84,201 โ€“ $160,725$84,201 โ€“ $160,700
32%$163,301 โ€“ $207,350$326,601 โ€“ $414,700$160,726 โ€“ $204,100ย $160,701 โ€“ $204,100
35%$207,351 โ€“ $518,400$414,701 โ€“ $622,050$204,101 โ€“ $306,175$204,101 โ€“ $510,300
37%$518,401+ย $622,050+ย $306,175+$510,301+
Source: SmartAsset ## Who Is Eligible to File a Joint Return

To file a joint return, the taxpayers' filing status must be either Married Filing Jointly (MFJ) or Qualifying Widow/er (QW). To be eligible for the married filing jointly (MFJ) filing status, the taxpayers must be legally married to one another prior to the last day of the tax year and both must consent to file and must sign the Joint Return.

To qualify as qualifying widow/er (QW), the taxpayer's spouse must have passed on in both of the two prior tax years and the taxpayer must keep a household for a dependent child.

Likewise, nonresident outsiders generally can't file as married filing jointly if either spouse was a nonresident outsider whenever during the tax year.

Definition of Married in a Joint Return

Whether taxpayers are viewed as married on the last day of the tax year is chosen by the law of the applicable state or jurisdiction. Same-sex relationships that are legally placed into are recognized for all federal tax purposes.

Taxpayers who divorce or separate under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance that is last anytime during the tax year are viewed as unmarried for that whole year and can't file a joint return.

Benefits of a Joint Return

Taxpayers who are married and not widowed must pick one of two filing situations with: filing jointly (MFJ) or married filing separately (MFS). Filing jointly is probably going to bring about less tax in the event that one spouse earns a large portion of the income and deductions won't be itemized.

Filing separately may bring about less tax assuming that the two spouses earn a similar income and if one or both have medical expenses, casualty losses, or miscellaneous deductions since joint and separate tax rates are probably going to be something similar and since adjusted gross income floors will be lower. Any time the two spouses earn taxable income, the tax ought to be figured both jointly and separately and a return filed utilizing the status that gives the most minimal tax.


  • To meet all requirements for joint filing status, you must be married in the year you are filing jointly.
  • A joint tax return is for married couples and offers some tax advantages over being married and filing separately.
  • Filers who have as of late lost a spouse are likewise eligible to get the tax advantage of filing jointly by filing as a qualified widow or widower.