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Joint Filing/Married

A joint return is a tax return filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on the new, simplified Form 1040 (as of 2018) by two married taxpayers whose filing status is married filing jointly (MFJ) or by a widowed taxpayer whose filing status is Qualifying Widow or Widower (QW). A joint return allows these taxpayers to combine their tax liability and report their income, deductions, and credits on the same joint return.

Key Takeaway


Filers who have recently lost a spouse are also eligible to get the tax advantage of filing jointly by filing as a qualified widow or widower.

How a Joint Return Works

A joint return permits eligible taxpayers to figure out their taxes using favorable joint return tax brackets, tax rates, and tax benefits. As a result, married couples who file a joint return generally pay a lower overall tax than married couples who file two separate returns