How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Lane Your Own Question
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 11381
Experience:  Law Degree, specialization in Tax Law and Corporate Law, CFP and MBA, Providing Financial & Tax advice since 1986
Type Your Tax Question Here...
Lane is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Can I switch the primary taxpayer on the federal return to

This answer was rated:

Can I switch the primary taxpayer on the federal return to my wife? It seems more appropriate as she is the primary earner, and this year I will not even have income. So I would like to switch to her as the primary on our tax returns.

NPVAdvisor : Hi, I can help with this ...

so can this be done?

NPVAdvisor : You could, but there is really no distinction made by the IRS, in terms of one person being primary ... It really just comes down to filing status
NPVAdvisor : married filing jointly is different from sing, for example
NPVAdvisor : different standard deduction
NPVAdvisor : But putting one person first makes no difference in the math at all
NPVAdvisor : Married filing separately (another filing status) is almost never the best because of so many credits and other things not being available for that status
NPVAdvisor : butstatus but, really, married filing jointly is married filing jointly, income is simply added, both of your eligible deductions are used...
NPVAdvisor : make sense?
NPVAdvisor :

Just to be sure you understand, there is no "primary tax payer"


Yes. Thanks. It just seemed weird to me that I was listed as primary when she is the primary breadwinner, and she is also listed as primary taxpayer on our local returns. So maybe I will switch to her as primary on the federal return as well to keep it consistent.


Does that seem reasonable?

NPVAdvisor :

And you most definitely want to continue to file jointly for TWO big reasons

NPVAdvisor :

(1) standard deduction is larger

NPVAdvisor :

(2) tax is lower on same levels of income

NPVAdvisor :

Sure, there's no problem with that, but it won't really make any difference ... again it's the filing status that really matters


Thanks. I just wanted to make sure. I'll keep filing jointly, and as long as there is no problem in switching her to primary on the federal as well I will do that. Ithught it might be a problem because she has a different ssn of course, but if it is no problem then that is fine, right?

NPVAdvisor :

Yes, that's fine. Both socials will be there either way



Lane and 2 other Tax Specialists are ready to help you

Thanks so much!

To ask for me again, say “For NPVAdvisor” at the beginning of your question


Go here: … and enter your question in the box.

Thanks again,

Related Tax Questions