- Publication 555 - Introductory Material
- Publication 555 - Main Content
- Community or Separate Property and Income
- Identifying Income, Deductions, and Credits
- Wages, earnings, and profits.
- Dividends, interest, and rents.
- Alimony received.
- Gains and losses.
- Withdrawals from individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).
- Lump-sum distributions.
- Civil service retirement.
- Military retirement pay.
- Partnership income.
- Tax-exempt income.
- Income from separate property.
- Credits, Taxes, and Payments
- Community Property Laws Disregarded
- Certain community income not treated as community income by one spouse.
- Relief from liability for tax attributable to an item of community income.
- Requesting relief.
- Equitable relief.
- Spousal agreements.
- Nonresident alien spouse.
- Spouses living apart all year.
- Earned income.
- Trade or business income.
- Partnership income or loss.
- Separate property income.
- Social security benefits.
- Other income.
- Other separated spouses.
- End of the Community
- Preparing a Federal Income Tax Return
- How To Get Tax Help
- Tax reform.
- Preparing and filing your tax return.
- Getting tax forms and publications.
- Access your online account (individual taxpayers only).
- Using direct deposit.
- Refund timing for returns claiming certain credits.
- Getting a transcript or copy of a return.
- Using online tools to help prepare your return.
- Resolving tax-related identity theft issues.
- Checking on the status of your refund.
- Making a tax payment.
- What if I cant pay now?
- Checking the status of an amended return.
- Understanding an IRS notice or letter.
- Contacting your local IRS office.
- Watching IRS videos.
- Getting tax information in other languages.
- The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Is Here To Help You
- Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs)
- Publication 555 - Additional Material
For the latest information about developments related to Publication 555, such as legislation enacted after it was published, go to IRS.gov/Pub555.
Repeal of deduction for alimony payments. You may not deduct alimony or separate maintenance payments you make, and you are not required to include as income alimony or separate maintenance payments you receive, under a divorce or separation agreement executed (1) after December 31, 2018, or (2) on or before December 31, 2018, but modified after December 31, 2018, if the modification expressly states that these changes apply to the modification.
Same-sex marriages. For federal tax purposes, marriages of couples of the same sex are treated the same as marriages of couples of the opposite sex. The term "spouse" includes an individual married to a person of the same sex. However, individuals who have entered into a registered domestic partnership, civil union, or other similar relationship, that isn't considered a marriage under state law, aren't considered married for federal tax purposes.
Photographs of missing children. The IRS is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC). Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.
504 Divorced or Separated Individuals
505 Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax
971 Innocent Spouse Relief
Forms (and Instructions)
8857 Request for Innocent Spouse Relief
8958 Allocation of Tax Amounts Between Certain Individuals in Community Property States
See How To Get Tax Help near the end of this publication for information about getting these publications and forms.
The law of the state where you are domiciled will determine if you have community property, community income, or both. If you and your spouse (or your registered domestic partner) have different domiciles, check the laws of each to see if you have community property, community income, or both.
You have only one domicile even if you have more than one home. Your domicile is a permanent legal home that you intend to use for an indefinite or unlimited period, and to which, when absent, you intend to return. The question of your domicile is mainly a matter of your intention as indicated by your actions. You must be able to show that you intend a given place or state to be your permanent home. If you move into or out of a community property state during the year, you may or may not have community income.
Factors considered in determining domicile include:
Where you pay state income tax,
Where you vote,
Location of property you own,
Length of residence, and
Business and social ties to the community.
If you file a federal tax return separately from your spouse, you must report half of all community income and all of your separate income. Likewise, a registered domestic partner must report half of all community income and all of his or her separate income on his or her federal tax return. You each must attach your Form 8958 to your Form 1040 showing how you figured the amount you are reporting on your return.
Generally, the laws of the state in which you are domiciled govern whether you have community property and community income or separate property and separate income for federal tax purposes. The following is a summary of the general rules. These rules are also shown in Table 1.
|Community property is property:
||Separate property is:
|Community income 1,2,3 is income from:
||Separate income 1,2 is income from:
|1 In Idaho, Louisiana, Texas, and Wisconsin, income from most separate property is community income.|
|2 Check your state law if you are separated but don't meet the conditions discussed in Spouses living apart all year , later. In some states, the income you earn after you are separated and before a divorce decree is issued continues to be community income. In other states, it is separate income.|
|3 Under special rules, income that can otherwise be characterized as community income may not be treated as community income for federal income tax purposes in certain situations. See Community Property Laws Disregarded , later.|
If you file separate returns, you and your spouse (or your registered domestic partner) each must attach your Form 8958 to your Form 1040 to identify your community and separate income, deductions, credits, and other return amounts according to the laws of your state.
Under special rules, income that can otherwise be characterized as community income may not be treated as community income for federal income tax purposes in certain situations. See Community Property Laws Disregarded, later.
Check your state law if you are separated but don't meet the conditions discussed in Spouses living apart all year, later. In some states, the income you earn after you are separated and before a divorce decree is issued continues to be community income. In other states, it is separate income.
The following is a discussion of the general effect of community property laws on the federal income tax treatment of certain items of income.
If you file separate returns, your deductions generally depend on whether the expenses involve community or separate income.
The following discussions are situations where special rules apply to community property and community income for spouses. These rules don't apply to registered domestic partners.
The marital community may end in several ways. When the marital community ends, the community assets (money and property) are divided between the spouses. Similarly, a registered domestic partnership may end in several ways and the community assets must be divided between the registered domestic partners.
The following discussion doesn't apply to spouses who meet the conditions under Spouses living apart all year , discussed earlier. Those spouses must report their community income as explained in that discussion.
Ordinarily, filing a joint return will give you a greater tax advantage than filing a separate return. But in some cases, your combined income tax on separate returns may be less than it would be on a joint return.
This discussion concerning joint versus separate returns doesn't apply to registered domestic partners.
The following rules apply if your filing status is married filing separately.
You should itemize deductions if your spouse itemizes deductions, because you can't claim the standard deduction.
You can't take the credit for child and dependent care expenses in most instances.
You can't take the earned income credit.
You can't exclude any interest income from qualified U.S. savings bonds that you used for higher education expenses.
You can't take the credit for the elderly or the disabled unless you lived apart from your spouse all year.
You will likely have to include in income a greater percentage of any social security benefits or equivalent railroad retirement benefits you received.
You can't deduct interest paid on a qualified student loan.
You can't take the education credits.
You may have a smaller child tax credit and credit for other dependents than you would on a joint return.
You can't take the exclusion or credit for adoption expenses in most instances.
Figure your tax both on a joint return and on separate returns under the community property laws of your state. You can then compare the tax figured under both methods and use the one that results in less tax.
If you file separate returns, you and your spouse must each report half of your combined community income and deductions in addition to your separate income and deductions. Each of you must complete and attach Form 8958 to your Form 1040 showing how you figured the amount you are reporting on your return. On the appropriate lines of your separate Form 1040, list only your share of the income and deductions on the appropriate lines of your separate tax returns (wages, interest, dividends, etc.). The same reporting rule applies to registered domestic partners. For a discussion of the effect of community property laws on certain items of income, deductions, credits, and other return amounts, see Identifying Income, Deductions, and Credits , earlier.
Attach your Form 8958 to your separate return showing how you figured the income, deductions, and federal income tax withheld that each of you reported. Form 8958 is used for married spouses in community property states who choose to file married filing separately. Form 8958 is also used for registered domestic partners who are domiciled in Nevada, Washington, or California. A registered domestic partner in Nevada, Washington, or California must follow state community property laws and report half the combined community income of the individual and his or her registered domestic partner.
If you have questions about a tax issue, need help preparing your tax return, or want to download free publications, forms, or instructions, go to IRS.gov and find resources that can help you right away.
Getting answers to your tax questions. On IRS.gov, get answers to your tax questions anytime, anywhere.
Go to IRS.gov/Help for a variety of tools that will help you get answers to some of the most common tax questions.
Go to IRS.gov/ITA for the Interactive Tax Assistant, a tool that will ask you questions on a number of tax law topics and provide answers. You can print the entire interview and the final response for your records.
Go to IRS.gov/Pub17 to get Pub. 17, Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals, which features details on tax-saving opportunities, 2018 tax changes, and thousands of interactive links to help you find answers to your questions. View it online in HTML, as a PDF, or download it to your mobile device as an eBook.
You may also be able to access tax law information in your electronic filing software.
TAS is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayer rights. Their job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly and that you know and understand your rights under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights describes 10 basic rights that all taxpayers have when dealing with the IRS. Go to TaxpayerAdvocate.IRS.gov to help you understand what these rights mean to you and how they apply. These are your rights. Know them. Use them.
TAS can help you resolve problems that you can’t resolve with the IRS. And their service is free. If you qualify for their assistance, you will be assigned to one advocate who will work with you throughout the process and will do everything possible to resolve your issue. TAS can help you if:
Your problem is causing financial difficulty for you, your family, or your business;
You face (or your business is facing) an immediate threat of adverse action; or
You’ve tried repeatedly to contact the IRS but no one has responded, or the IRS hasn’t responded by the date promised.
TAS has offices in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Your local advocate’s number is in your local directory and at TaxpayerAdvocate.IRS.gov/Contact-Us. You can also call them at 877-777-4778.
TAS works to resolve large-scale problems that affect many taxpayers. If you know of one of these broad issues, please report it to them at IRS.gov/SAMS.
TAS also has a website, Tax Reform Changes, which shows you how the new tax law may change your future tax filings and helps you plan for these changes. The information is categorized by tax topic in the order of the IRS Form 1040. Go to TaxChanges.us for more information.
LITCs are independent from the IRS. LITCs represent individuals whose income is below a certain level and need to resolve tax problems with the IRS, such as audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes. In addition, clinics can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Services are offered for free or a small fee. To find a clinic near you, visit TaxpayerAdvocate.IRS.gov/LITCmap or see IRS Pub. 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List.
- Child tax credit, Child tax credit.
- Civil service annuities, Civil service retirement.
- Community income defined, Community or Separate Property and Income
- Community income, special rules, Certain community income not treated as community income by one spouse.
- Community property defined, Community or Separate Property and Income
- Community property laws
- Credit for other dependents, Credit for other dependents.
- CSRS annuities, Civil service retirement.
- Death of spouse, basis of property, Death of spouse.
- Dividends, Dividends, interest, and rents.
- Divorce, Divorce or separation.
- Domestic partners, Registered domestic partners.
- Domicile, Domicile
- Earned income credit, Earned income credit.
- End of the marital community, End of the Community
- Equitable relief, Equitable relief.
- ESA withdrawals, Withdrawals from individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).
- Estimated tax payments, Estimated tax payments.
- Exempt income, Tax-exempt income.
- Extensions, Extension of time to file.
- Gains and losses, Gains and losses.
- Identity theft, Resolving tax-related identity theft issues.
- Civil service annuities, Income
- Dividends, Income
- Gains and losses, Income
- Income from separate property, Income
- Interest, Income
- IRA distributions, Income
- Lump-sum distributions, Income
- Military retirement pay, Income
- Partnership income, Income
- Pensions, Income
- Rents, Income
- Separate income, Income from separate property.
- Tax-exempt income, Income
- Wages, earnings, and profits, Income
- Innocent spouse relief, Relief from liability for tax attributable to an item of community income., Equitable relief.
- Interest, Dividends, interest, and rents.
- Investment expenses, Business and investment expenses.
- IRA deduction, IRA deduction.
- IRA distributions, Withdrawals from individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).
- Joint return vs. separate returns, Joint Return Versus Separate Returns
- Lump-sum distributions, Lump-sum distributions.
- Nonresident alien spouse, Nonresident alien spouse.
- Overpayments, Overpayments.
- Partnership income, Partnership income.
- Partnerships, self-employment tax, Partnerships.
- Payments not alimony
- Pensions, Pensions.
- Personal expenses, Personal expenses.
- Publications (see Tax help)
- Registered domestic partners, Registered domestic partners.
- Relief from liability for tax attributable to an item of community income, Relief from liability for tax attributable to an item of community income.
- Rents, Dividends, interest, and rents.
- Self-employment tax
- Separate income defined, Separate income.
- Separate property defined, Community or Separate Property and Income
- Separate property income, Income from separate property.
- Separate returns
- Extensions, Extension of time to file.
- Separate returns vs. joint return, Joint Return Versus Separate Returns
- Separated spouses, Spouses living apart all year.
- Separation agreement, Divorce or separation.
- Sole proprietorship, self-employment tax, Sole proprietorship.
- Spousal agreements, Spousal agreements.
- Spouses living apart, Spouses living apart all year.