Cindy Allen & Associates PLLC

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Choosing the right tax filing status

Typically, an Oklahoma married couple has the option to file their federal tax returns either jointly or separately. In most cases, it is beneficial to file a joint return. However, there are times when it may be best to file individual returns instead. When a couple files jointly, they may enjoy a lower tax rate for their combined income, enjoy a larger standard deduction and enjoy access to credits that may not be available when filing separately.

People may also see an impact on the tax treatment of their Social Security benefits depending upon how they file. A good reason to file separately, however, is to keep distance from a spouse who may be engaging in questionable tax reporting practices. In the event that a spouse is committing fraud or engaging in tax evasion, the other may avoid scrutiny.

Filing a separate return may also be easier if a couple is in the process of divorcing. As the tax status of a person is determined as of the last day of the taxable year, those who are in the middle of a divorce that has not yet been finalized must either use joint status or married filing separate returns. Those who are in same-sex marriages must also file jointly or separately.

How an individual decides to file may depend on a variety of factors. In some cases, an individual may prefer to file a separate return to claim deductions for medical expenses or other personal expenses based on his or her own income. An attorney who is handling a client's divorce divorce might provide advice on this matter.

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