Hi ... honestly about the only reason to file separately IS the one you gave (keeping things separate), but financially married filing jointly almost always makes more sense ... For example, for 2013 the personal exemption that everyone gets is 3900 (you'll see two of them on the joint return) but they are phased out at certain income levels; for married filing jointly phaseout begins at 300,000 ... but for separately they're phased out a 150,000 ... also the standard deduction is $12,400 for married filing jointly and only $6,200 for filing separately (although that may not make a different as you probably itemize and your itemized deduction will be more than that ... the factor that will make the MOST difference is the tax bracket for filing married jointly as opposed to separately (for jointly the brackets tax much higher levels of income a t lower rates: See this:
Here's married separately:
[Tax Rate Schedule Y-2, Internal Revenue Code section 1(d)]
And here's married filing jointly:
[Tax Rate Schedule Y-1, Internal Revenue Code section 1(a)]
look at the 25% and 28% tax bracket for both
Nothing is really changing for 2013 other than the exemptions goin up to 3950
And here's a really great way to think through the differences (from turbotax):
When filing jointly, your tax return reports a single taxable income number that reflects your earnings, as well as your spouse’s. You then calculate the tax you owe using the married filing jointly tax brackets. There are six brackets—each of which imposes a different tax rate on specific portions of your taxable income. And as your taxable income progresses through each tax bracket, the tax rates increase.
The benefit of filing jointly over separately is that each tax bracket covers a wider range of taxable income than the married filing separately brackets do. Essentially, this means that more of your joint income is subject to lower rates of tax, which many times results in lower tax bill in comparison to calculating separate tax bills on the same earnings. And the larger the difference in the income that you and your spouse each earn, the more tax you will save by filing jointly.
Filing a joint return can reduce your taxes even more by itemizing deductions and taking all available tax credits that you and your spouse are eligible for. This is because when you file a separate return, the IRS places significant limitations on your ability to itemize deductions and to take tax credits – regardless of the fact that you and your spouse would otherwise qualify if filing a joint return instead. One drawback of filing a joint return is that you and your spouse are separately responsible for all tax—not just the tax that relates to your own earnings.
To illustrate, suppose you earn $50,000 per year and your spouse earns $100,000. Although you earn one-third of the income, you are solely responsible for the tax that is due on $150,000 if your spouse is unable to make payment. In other words, the IRS will not allocate an income tax debt between spouses who file joint returns. Under very limited circumstances, however, the IRS can grant various types of relief that either eliminates the joint liability or reduces the amount of tax you are responsible for.
here's the video: https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/IRS-Tax-Return/Video--Should-a-Married-Couple-File-Jointly-or-Separately-/INF20239.html
I see that you're standing by (according to MY screen) Questions? ... Sorry for the data dump, just wanted to get the foundation out there (costs of married filing separately)
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Thanks for your input, Lane. It was enlightening. I appreciate it!
I'm remodeling my house that was a rental for seven months this year. It's vacant now and won't be completed until the end of the year. I am spending way more in remodling expenses than I collected in rent. Is there any way to write off these expenses?