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"Unless you live in a community property state, you're going to be better off with a joint return. If you do live in a community property state, separate returns may be worth investigating"

Could you please elaborate just a little on that comment?

What you left out of the quote was the assumption that the couple has but one job between them. In such a case a joint return is going to result in less tax than would separate returns. With most of the income being reported on one separate return, the effective rate would be higher.

In a community property state, community income, including wages, is split between the separate returns regardless of who earned it. Thus, with some income on the nonworking spouse's return, there might be an advantage with respect to medical bills, etc.

Phil Marti
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