Filing taxes jointly with my husband saved us $2,500 this year, but more importantly it makes us feel like a team

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  • My husband and I have always filed taxes jointly, and this year it saved us $2,500. But we do it not just because it’s good for our wallets — filing jointly reflects how we approach our finances generally.
  • Ever since we got married, we’ve filed together — we see our money as “ours,” and share all of our debts and bills.
  • It’s easier for me to have my freelance paychecks deposited into a separate business checking account to keep track, but ultimately that money ends up in our joint account.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

My husband and I just found out we saved $2,500 filing our 2019 taxes jointly — but we may not have, if we hadn’t known about the benefits of doing so. 

Honestly, it would be easier to keep things separate. As a freelance writer with dozens of 1099s to keep track of every year, I keep my financial operations separate from my husband, who’s a W2 employee at a local software company. 

While I have regular, taxable income, my financial situation is complicated. The money I earn from freelance clients isn’t taxed, so I pay quarterly tax estimates four times a year to make sure I won’t owe a huge lump sum every April. 

It’s simpler for me to have my paychecks deposited into a totally separate business account, then “taxed” by deducting a percentage and moving it to another separate savings account. My husband, on the other hand, just gets his net income (after taxes and his investment contribution) deposited into our joint account. 

There are some practical reasons for filing jointly

Since the cash flow of our individual income streams is totally different, it seems like it would make sense to just file our taxes separately. But since we got married in 2011, we have been filing jointly — mostly, because we know it will save us money in the long haul. 

One reason we file jointly every year has to do with being parents. Kids are expensive, but there are some tax perks to having them: We get a child tax credit benefit that’s contingent on filing jointly. We also both have a lot of student loans, and a perk of filing jointly is that we can both deduct our interest so we ultimately pay less.

Filing jointly reflects our overall approach to our finances

But more importantly, our decision to file our taxes jointly reflects how we see our finances in general. Since we got married, we’ve viewed our finances as “ours” — not “his income, his money” or vice versa. We’ve had the same joint checking account since the time we were legally married, and we pay all of our bills — which have both our names on them — out of it. We also have credit cards, a mortgage, and a car payment in both of our names, which means we view our debts as a joint effort. 

We approach our finances jointly because it’s simpler in a lot of ways. (It’s much easier to take out a mortgage with both of our incomes on the application.) But we also see joint finances as a way to honor each other. This approach has brought us closer together during difficult financial times, and it’s helped us to feel more unified about our long-term financial goals and everyday decisions with money.

Our ‘team’ approach works for us in many ways

It’s not always fun to communicate about money, but this “joint” approach has worked for us in many different seasons of our lives. There were times when neither of us had a lot of money, and we worked together at our restaurant jobs to scrounge up the minimum payments due on each of our student loans. When I was a stay-at-home mom six years ago, he was the sole breadwinner, and we stretched his income across all of our obligations. Now, I make more money than he does, and we’ve used my income to pay off almost $30,000 in credit card debt we accumulated together.

That’s just how we like to operate in our relationship: as individual people with unique assets and liabilities, but more than that, as a partnership. Ultimately, having that extra accountability helps us grow as individuals, but I’m most thankful for it because it also brings us closer together. The $2,500 we have in our pockets after filing our taxes is just icing on the cake.

Still have tax questions? Connect one-on-one with a tax professional through JustAnswer, a Business Insider partner »

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More:

Taxes
Tax Day 2020
Married filing jointly
Tax Return

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