Legal liabilities are affected by the choice of filing status. Married persons who file joint or combined returns are jointly and severally liable for all income taxes due for the period covered by the return. That is, each spouse may be held legally responsible for payment of taxes on income earned by the other. If spouses want to credit the refund of one against the liability of the other or combine their tax liabilities or refunds, they must file a combined return. If spouses want to keep their tax liabilities and/or refunds separate, each must file a separate tax form. Check the box that describes your filing status. If you are married, filed a joint federal return and both you and your spouse had income, you may be able to reduce your tax by using Filing Status 2 rather than Filing Status 3.
Filing Status 1, Single"
Use this filing status if you are unmarried, divorced, widowed, legally separated by court decree, or if you filed as "Head of Household" or "Qualifying Widow(er)" on your federal return.
Filing Status 2, Married Filing Separately on This Combined Return"
Use this filing status to report your incomes individually but on only one tax form. You do this by filling in both Columns A and B. You may file separately on this combined return regardless of whether you filed jointly or separately for federal purposes if both you and your spouse had income. This filing status usually results in a lower tax than Filing Status 3. Each spouse must claim his or her own income and deductions. The total of Line 5, Columns A and B, must equal your and your spouseÆs federal adjusted gross income.
Filing Status 3, Married Filing Joint Return"
Use this filing status if you and your spouse choose to file a joint return even if one spouse had no income. Jointly means that you and your spouse add your incomes together and report in Column B. If both you and your spouse have income, it may be to your benefi t to use Filing Status 2.
Filing Status 4, Married Filing Separate Returns-If using this filing status, you and your spouse must file two separate tax forms. The husband's income is reported on one tax form, the wifeÆs on the other. When filing separate returns, the name and Social Security number of each spouse must be entered on both returns. Enter the spouse's Social Security number in the block provided, and enter the name on Line 4.