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Joint Return

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A joint return is an IRS tax return that is filed by both members of a married couple. In a joint return, income and deductions are combined, and the standard deduction is twice that of an individual. With a joint return, only one return is filed. To be eligible to file a joint return, the couple must have the status of "married filing jointly." In most cases, filing a joint return results in the couple paying less tax than they would if they filed separately. One common disadvantage (called the "marriage penalty") of filing a joint return is that the couple may actually pay more tax collectively than they would if they were not married at all and filed separately.

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