Joint Return


Joint Return
A U.S. income tax return filed on behalf of a married couple, resulting in a combined tax liability. Married taxpayers can choose to file two separate tax returns or a joint tax return. The joint return is often referred to as married filing jointly (MFJ). In order to file a joint return in any given year, the couple must be legally married on or before the last day of the year, and both spouses must agree to file a joint return.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) states, "If you and your spouse decide to file a joint return, your tax may be lower than your combined tax for the other filing statuses. Also, your standard deduction (if you do not itemize deductions) may be higher, and you may qualify for tax benefits that do not apply to other filing statuses." Both spouses report all income, deductions and credits on a joint tax return, and both spouses must sign the tax return. If one spouse dies during the year, the surviving spouse can still file a joint return for that year. During subsequent years, the surviving spouse can file as a surviving spouse, as head of household or as a single taxpayer. If taxpayers divorce at any point during the year, they are considered unmarried for that entire year and cannot elect "married filing jointly" as their filing status.

In general, the joint return provides more favorable tax benefits than filing separately. However, each case is different and taxpayers must determine which method results in the lower combined tax.


Investment dictionary. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • joint return — n. A tax return filed by a husband and wife, each of whom is individually liable for the entire tax due. Webster s New World Law Dictionary. Susan Ellis Wild. 2000 …   Law dictionary

  • joint return — joint′ return′ n. gov bus an income tax return reporting the combined income of a married couple …   From formal English to slang

  • joint return — n. a single income tax return filed by a married couple, combining their individual incomes …   English World dictionary

  • joint return — noun a return filed by a husband and wife • Hypernyms: ↑tax return, ↑income tax return, ↑return * * * a U.S. income tax return reporting the combined income of a married couple. * * * joint return, U.S. an income tax report listing the combined… …   Useful english dictionary

  • joint return — a U.S. income tax return reporting the combined income of a married couple. * * * …   Universalium

  • joint return — Fin a tax return filed jointly by a husband and a wife …   The ultimate business dictionary

  • joint return — A single return for income tax made by husband and wife, reporting their combined incomes, deductions, and exemptions …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • Joint Return Test — One of the tests administered by the IRS that potential dependents must pass in order to be claimed as such by another taxpayer. The joint return test stipulates that no dependent can file a joint return with a spouse and still be claimed as a… …   Investment dictionary

  • joint tax return — Tax return filed for federal or state taxes by a husband and wife together and each is individually liable. Such return includes the income of both spouses, though one spouse need not have any income. It is usually more beneficial from a tax… …   Black's law dictionary


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