Do Domestic Partners File Joint Tax Returns?

In Illinois, partners can file tax returns in any way that a married couple can file. That means filing a joint tax return or a “married filing separately” return. That’s the easy part. But we’re not done yet. The other part is that for purposes of filing federal returns, partners aren’t allowed to file either jointly or “married filing separately.” If you’ve been following along, you know that federal law does not recognize civil unions.

This means that domestic partners have a dilemma when it comes time to filing tax returns. And yes, it’s possible they might use one filing status for the state and a different status for the federal return, although just thinking about that result might cause a headache.

Of course, the specifics of each partner’s income, deductions, gains, losses, and financial interests must be considered.

Before any couple enters into a civil union or marriage, it’s essential that they consult with their accountant or tax attorney.

Even if a couple is certain of the type of relationship status they intend to pursue regardless of the financial ramifications, prior to doing so each person should still know ahead of time the end results of each choice, whether marriage, partner status or otherwise.