Internal Revenue Service United States Department of the Treasury
Level Basic Advanced Military International

Filing Status

Filing Status Requirements

Married Filing a Joint Return

Married taxpayers who choose to file jointly will use one return to report their combined income and to deduct combined allowable expenses. Click here to view the Interview Tips for Filing Status.

Married taxpayers can select this status even if one of the spouses did not have any income or any deductions. Taxpayers may use the Married Filing Jointly status if one of the following applies on the last day of the tax year:

  • They are married and:
    • Live together or
    • Live apart but are not legally separated or divorced
  • They are common law married pursuant to the laws of a state in which they live or used to live
  • The taxpayer's spouse died during the year and the taxpayer has not remarried
More Information

The IRS recognizes a common law marriage if it is recognized by the state where the taxpayers now live or where the common law marriage began, and the marriage has not been dissolved, such as by death or divorce. Legal advice may be required to determine if a common law marriage exists.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Does it matter if one spouse does not have any income?

Answer: No. Taxpayers can choose either the Married Filing Jointly status or the Married Filing Separately status even if only one spouse has income.

Interview Tips: Filing Status

Interview Tips: Filing Status