Benefits for Couples Filing Jointly

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    • Income tax formtax forms image by Chad McDermott from Fotolia.com

      Married couples who agree to combine their tax returns and file their federal income taxes jointly can reap benefits from that filing status. While it is a good idea to figure your taxes jointly and compare by figuring a separate tax filing, in most cases, there will be more benefits in filing jointly.

    Tax Preparation

    • The most obvious way filing jointly benefits a couple at tax time is the easier process of filing a single return instead of two separate returns. Joint filings eliminate the need to schedule two appointments with a tax preparer or go through an online tax program twice. A joint filing usually doesn't cost more than a single filing.

    Tax Liability

    • The total tax liability for a couple is likely to be less when they file a joint return. The income threshold for a single filer jumps from the minimum to a much higher tax bracket once the person earns more than $33,950 (for 2009), but a couple will retain the lowest tax bracket as long as their combined income remains below $67,900 (2009).

      In the event that one person in the marriage makes $40,000 per year, for example, and the other is a stay-at-home parent or makes less than $27,900, the spouse with the higher income would remain in the lowest tax-liability range instead of being in a considerably higher bracket.

    Standard Deduction

    • A standard deduction is a common deduction made on everyone's tax return that reduces the amount of tax owed by those who do not itemize deductions for the prior year. Filing jointly can lead to a lower taxable income because the standard deduction doubles for joint filers.

      In 2009 the IRS allows a standard deduction of $5,700 against owed taxes for married people filing separately and an $11,400 standard deduction for those filing jointly. In some cases, this deduction could make the difference in bringing the adjusted gross income to a lower tax bracket, resulting in a larger refund or a reduced tax bill.

    Tax Credits

    • Some tax credits are generally available only to married couples who file jointly, including the earned income credit, dependent care credit, adoption credit and a student loan interest deduction. These credits can reduce tax liability and have a significant impact on the amount of taxes owed or a refund.

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