Should You File Your Taxes Jointly? Here Is What Dave Ramsey Says

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  • Ramsey believes that for most married couples, filing jointly is usually the best option.
  • Married couples who file joint returns often qualify for more tax credits and deductions than those who file separately.
  • If filing separately results in saving more money, then you should file separately.

Check out Dave Ramsey's guide to filing taxes jointly or separately.

Have you ever wondered if it's worth filing taxes jointly or separately? You may have heard that couples filing jointly can benefit from certain deductions and credits, but is it always the right decision? Dave Ramsey, a personal finance expert and bestselling author, has some advice on when to file jointly or separately. Here is what he says.

What does "married filing jointly" mean?

First things first: Let's define "married filing jointly." This term refers to a tax status where a married couple files their taxes as one entity instead of two individuals. In other words, they both report their incomes and deductions on one tax return instead of filing separate returns for each spouse.

This filing status typically provides more tax benefits than filing separately and is available to couples who are legally married at the end of the tax year. However, couples who live together but are not legally married cannot file jointly because they don't meet the IRS definition of "married" for tax purposes.

Advantages of filing jointly

The main advantage of filing jointly over separately is that it typically results in lower taxes overall compared to each spouse filing individually. But sometimes couples can save more money by filing separately, depending on their individual situations and incomes. According to Ramsey, there are four benefits to filing jointly:

  1. Higher standard deduction: Filing jointly doubles the standard deduction from $12,000 to $24,000.
  2. More tax credits: Certain credits and deductions are only available if you file a joint return rather than separate returns for each spouse.
  3. Save time: You only have to file one return instead of two.
  4. Less complicated: Filing separately means there are more rules to follow.

Advantages of filing separately

Ramsey states that you should file separate returns if it saves you more money. You should choose whichever filing status gives you back more money in taxes. If you do your taxes yourself and use a software program, you can put in your information both ways to see which one is best for you and then choose that filing method. Ramsey says there are three reasons it may be better to file separately.

  1. Your spouse isn't paying taxes: Ramsey doesn't recommend this but if your spouse is behind in their tax returns, you should still file yours.
  2. Your spouse isn't being honest in their reporting: Both of you are responsible for your taxes, so if one of you is hiding income or falsely reporting deductions, it is best for you to file your own return.
  3. You have medical debt to claim: How much you can claim as a deduction is based on your earnings. So it may make sense to file individually to maximize the deduction.

In short, Ramsey states that more often than not, you are better off filing jointly. However, there are certain reasons you should consider filing separately, especially if you will get more money back from the government. To figure out which option will save you the most money based on your specific circumstances, use tax software to estimate or consult with a tax professional.

Ultimately, whether you should file your taxes jointly depends on your individual financial situation and goals. Do some research and you may want to speak with a professional before making a final decision so you can find out which option works best for you.

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