Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for married couples to file taxes separately is if one person in the relationship has outstanding debts and/or previous tax issues. If you or your partner have back taxes, owed child support, medical bills, or defaulted federal loans (e.g., student loans) then filing jointly can mean that your joint return is taken in order to cover those debts. This means any part of the tax return amount that you or your partner might have received will instead be used to pay off those pre-existing debts. Remember, this only applies if you file jointly whereas filing separately keeps any individual tax returns separate. This means that any return amount for one of you will not be automatically available to pay for debts owed by the other.
Similarly, filing separately ensures you’re not found liable for any errors or issues that might occur with your partner’s taxes. If you’re concerned in any way about them filing incorrectly or falsely claiming credits, filing separately ensures you won’t be on the hook for any tax evasion penalties that might come their way. Of course, if this is a genuine concern, it could be worth having a deeper financial discussion with your spouse. Other reasons to file separately can be related to your income level. If your dual income would be enough to push you into another higher tax bracket, it could be worth filing separately to avoid the higher tax rate.