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Tax return as a married couple: When is it worthwhile to make an individual assessment, when is it worthwhile to make a joint assessment?

Married couples and registered partners have the choice: You can either submit a joint tax return (joint assessment) or each of you can submit your own tax return (individual assessment). In order for you to be able to choose between these two types of assessment, the following requirements must be met:

  • The marriage must be legally valid.
  • Both spouses or life partners must be fully taxable.
  • In terms of tax law, the spouses or life partners are not allowed to live permanently apart.

All of these requirements must be met on at least one day in the tax year - that is the year for which you are preparing your tax return. So if you do not get married until December 31, 2020, you will still benefit from spouse splitting if you are jointly assessed for 2020.

If you divorce your partner, a joint assessment in the year of the divorce is no longer possible due to the previous year of separation. However, if there was an attempt at reconciliation before the divorce and you can be shown to have lived with your spouse again, you can file a joint tax return.

Individual assessment or joint assessment: which brings more tax advantages?

In most cases, it is more tax-efficient if you, as a married couple and registered partner, file a joint tax return. However, you should make the choice of the type of assessment dependent on your income situation: For married couples and registered partners with significant income differences, it is generally worthwhile to assess them together - the higher the difference in salaries, the greater the tax advantage. In some exceptional cases, the individual assessment is more worthwhile; for example, if a spouse received parental allowance or other income replacement benefits.

How is the right to choose between individual assessment and joint assessment exercised?

You can state your choice of whether you want to be invested together or individually in the tax return on the main form. If you opt for a joint tax return in paper form, this must be signed by both spouses. For an individual assessment, however, an application from a partner is sufficient. The other partner has to accept this decision, but: An application against the partner's will and without economic benefit is ineffective. For example, a spouse who does not have any income cannot file a single tax return.

Attention: If you do not make use of your right to choose, you will automatically be assessed together.

You can decide each year which type of tax return you want to submit for the previous tax year. You can usually change your choice until your tax assessment is final. So you have one month after receiving the tax assessment to file an objection.

Tip:

Before you submit your tax return, you should definitely check which type of assessment is worthwhile for you and your partner. Are you unsure whether you have made the optimal choice? As a member of the tax ring, one of our 1,100 consultants will advise you and will also prepare your tax return.