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I am married and currently working full time on H4 EAD. Last year we filed tax jointly but each of us felt we received less returns than expected. Also the refund goes to my spouse's bank account directly and I do not get anything even though tax gets cut from pay check. Since I got job, my husband expects me to take care of all my expenses hence I want to file tax separately so that I would get refund. It is Ok even if it is less than what we would have got if filed jointly. I have submitted w4 as 'married filing separately'.

If I file tax separately, would it affect green card processing in adverse way? What would be implications? Can I file separately?

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    we received less returns than expected - you feel you paid too much tax? You'll pay more when filing MFS.
    – littleadv
    Mar 14, 2022 at 15:12
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    If anything here has an impact on your green card, it’s the fact that you have separate accounts and your spouse seems to not be willing to transfer you a share of the return (or any money, it seems). This leaves the impression that you’re not really a couple but just a marriage of convenience.
    – Aganju
    Mar 14, 2022 at 19:25
  • That is exactly the issue- my spouse won't transfer my share of refund to my account by giving excuses like he takes care of other household expenses. I have paid taxes from my pay checks and i feel it unfair not to get any refund. It is not that we are having big fights, just that we prefer not to interfere in each others matters. We are busy currently in office/other work and would not have time to together to file taxes together.
    – nahak
    Mar 15, 2022 at 1:49

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Filing separately is almost always a bad idea, if you don't have to. You get significantly worse tax treatment, particularly if you're not particularly well off and are using the standard deduction and could qualify for various credits or deductions (these go away when your income is very high).

See this article for an example of the various things that will be worse when you file separately. Your spouse will also have to agree to file separately - if he files jointly and you also file separately, that won't work, after all. (Technically, you have to agree to file jointly, but practically speaking it's common for one spouse to file on behalf of both without meaningfully involving the other.)

As far as a green card application, it could have some impact, as filing taxes jointly is used as evidence of marital status. It isn't necessarily a deal breaker, but it could add more complication - you might have to work harder to prove you're married, particularly if you don't have a tax reason for filing separately (in particular, it will look very questionable if you filed separately and paid more taxes for doing so).

My advice: file jointly. Give your work a W-4 form filled out in such a way that the correct amount of tax is withheld so you don't get any refund (at least for your part of things). A tax refund is a bad thing, because it means you paid too much tax before. Correct that, and the tax refund won't impact you negatively even if he keeps all of it.

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  • Thanks Joe. I have already given W4 at the beginning of the year as - married - filing separately. Am not sure if my spouse also submitted W-4 in the same way ( i had reminded him- he had not done that last year and we received less then expected refund - so we decided to file our own taxes and not to blame each other why we received less refund). In most articles on this matter - they advise to file jointly as you save more. But saving more money is not always the purpose.
    – nahak
    Mar 15, 2022 at 1:56
  • Yes, understood - but the ideal is zero refund. Set your W4 correctly so you pay exactly what you owe, both, and then it doesn’t matter how you file. Refund of zero is best possible result!
    – Joe
    Mar 15, 2022 at 3:31

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