B Law & Tax
04 April 2024

Advantages and disadvantages of filing the Income Tax return jointly

At the beginning of the period for filing the Personal Income Tax (IRPF) return, it is common for couples to consider whether it is more beneficial to opt for joint or individual filing. While joint filing can bring advantages in various cases, its convenience is not always evident. This article analyzes when it may be advantageous to file jointly in the IRPF and when it is more convenient to opt for individual filing.

However, it is important to note that there is no general rule applicable in all cases, and taxpayers are advised to assess their particular situation individually. Sometimes, providing personalized tax advice may require specific simulations to find the strategy that maximizes tax savings.

Who can opt for joint filing?

In the Spanish fiscal context, legally married couples, both heterosexual and homosexual, have the option of filing jointly. However, for unmarried couples or those cohabiting without being married, unfortunately, joint filing is not possible, as the civil registry recognizes them as single individuals.

It is important to note that in the case of families with children living under the same roof without being married, they are included in the individual declarations of each parent. In such circumstances, each parent can benefit from the corresponding deductions for parenthood, but not from the family unit reduction applicable in joint filing.

Likewise, single-parent families, where one parent lives only with minor children, have the option of filing jointly with the children. Regarding divorced couples, the spouse with custody of the children can file jointly with them, while in the case of shared custody, each party can benefit from half of the bonuses corresponding to children.

Reductions applicable in the IRPF return

Before analyzing the convenience of joint filing, it is relevant to clarify the reductions applicable to both individuals and married couples. These reductions, crucial in evaluating the viability of joint filing, include:

Personal allowance, applicable to all taxpayers, set at €5,500.

Family unit reduction, €3,400, applicable to married couples with or without children.

Reduction for single-parent families, €2,150, intended for single parents living with minor children.

It is important to note that these reductions imply a decrease in the total taxable income, resulting in lower income tax to pay.

Cases to consider in the choice of joint filing

There are certain scenarios where opting for joint filing is more convenient, as well as others where individual filing may be more advantageous. Below are some of these cases:

When only one member of the couple earns income, joint filing is usually more favorable, as family unit reductions and personal allowances are applied, resulting in a significant decrease in the taxable base.

In the case of single-parent families, including minor children in the joint filing can be beneficial, as long as they do not exceed certain annual income limits.

In divorce situations, the spouse with custody of the children can opt for joint filing with them, while in the case of shared custody, both parties can benefit from child bonuses.

If one member of the couple has a high salary and the other earns a low salary that does not reach the minimum wage (SMI), joint filing may be more convenient, as family unit reductions in addition to personal allowances can be applied.

In conclusion, the choice between joint and individual filing for couples requires a detailed analysis of each particular case. If there is any doubt regarding the need to file the tax return, it is recommended to seek specialized tax advice.

B Law & Tax International Tax & Legal Advisors.


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