Joint tax returns aren't the most exciting part of being a newlywed, but they are one of the most practical. As you start out your married life, you now have the choice to file jointly with your spouse. What should you know about this option? Here are a few key points for every newly married couple.

1. Joint Filing Isn't Mandatory

First of all, you and your spouse have the choice to file a joint tax return. However, you can continue to file separately. You both may make this election on a year-to-year basis, choosing whichever option is the most advantageous for financial or personal reasons. 

2. Filing Jointly Is Usually Better...

The good news is that joint filing is usually beneficial compared to filing separately. Both your incomes are pooled, but you benefit from higher standard deductions, higher thresholds for credits and deductions, and being able to use all your available deductions. In addition, the married filing separately status disallows many credits and deductions, making it less advantageous. 

3. ...But Not Always

While the general rule of thumb is that joint filing is better, this isn't the case for every single taxpayer. Married filing separately may be better, in particular, if there is a large difference in income between the two partners and one would have access to more deductions by filing individually. Discuss this option with your preparer before settling on a filing status. 

4. Your Spouse's History Can Haunt You

Have a frank conversation about your tax history with one another and your tax preparer. If you file jointly, you become responsible for the full amount of tax — and your tax refund could be used to pay the other person's old debt. There are ways to avoid this, including both innocent and injured spouse relief, but you must act proactively to protect one spouse's money. 

5. Couples Do Best by Planning Together

Whether you decide to file a joint tax return or not, start doing tax planning as a couple. Filing two separate returns, for instance, may make one person's taxes much lower but raise the other spouse's. Is the net amount together better for your family? What about future years, as you plan things like tax-advantaged account contributions or starting a side business? When you coordinate your plans, you both win. 

Where to Start

Begin your newlywed tax journey by making an appointment with a qualified tax preparation service in your state today. With their expertise, you and your partner will start off your new life on the best financial foot possible.  

For more information about tax management, contact a local company.