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My spouse is self-employed and has significant expenses that he can write off, eg home office expenses. For him, itemized deductions makes total sense compared to standard.

I'm also working from home (remotely) but I'm an employee so apparently I can't claim home office expenses as deductions (weird). Therefore for me, itemized deductions make no sense compared to standard.

My income is much higher than my spouse's, so I'm guessing we will file jointly. It would make logical sense to me that we could add up the standard deduction for my income and the itemized deductions for his income to calculate our total deductions, but I'm not reading anywhere that this is a possibility: can someone please confirm that this is not possible? Any advice on what to do in our situation? Many thanks.

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    This isn't part of your question but something worth considering. If you aren't sure how best to file (individually, jointly, head of household, etc..) then you might consider buying some tax software and running all the different scenarios with your information. It will add more work to your plate but that would allow you to compare which filing works best for you.
    – DanK
    Apr 12 at 15:41
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    > so apparently I can't claim home office expenses as deductions (weird) If you're incurring expenses on behalf of your employer, your employer should be reimbursing you.
    – cmn.jcs
    Apr 13 at 0:43
  • @DanK TurboTax essentially does that automatically for you. You enter all your information, and it tells you whether you would be better off with the standard deduction or itemizing.
    – Barmar
    Apr 13 at 14:40
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    @Barmar TurboTax has dropped off the IRS Free File programme, after a load of shady practices (documented on Wikipedia). There are other free tax softwares available (link to the IRS website), so no need to pay Intuit a single cent.
    – wizzwizz4
    Apr 13 at 17:14
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    As far as the IRS is concerned, a married couple is a single entity. Your income is his income, his expenses are your expenses. Everything either of you earn or can deduct belong to both of you. The "Married filing separately" option on the tax form offers no advantages (and several disadvantages!) and is mostly there to accommodate couples who are still legally married but otherwise estranged or separated and can't file jointly.
    – Seth R
    Apr 14 at 17:21

2 Answers 2

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The standard deduction for married filing jointly is 2x the standard deduction for filing single or married filing separately.

When filing jointly you either itemize or take the standard deduction jointly. Even if you filed separately, if one spouse itemized the other would have to too (well, they don't HAVE to but their standard deduction would be 0).

Self employment expenses are not itemized deductions, but instead offset business income, so itemized vs standard is likely a non-issue for you. If your spouse is new to self-employment it's worth doing a fair bit of research on what is/isn't deductible and/or leveraging a professional.

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It is not possible. If you file separately, you have to both either itemize or not.

However, if your spouse is self-employed then their home-office deduction goes as an expense on their Schedule C, not as a deduction on schedule A. That should solve your problem.

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    Yeah it sounds like the OP or their spouse don't understand self-employment tax filing in general.
    – Logarr
    Apr 12 at 21:29
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    Also note that "home-office" deductions can be a trap, since they may have an impact on the sale of your home years down the line. Always consult a professional before taking such deductions.
    – Jim Mack
    Apr 13 at 21:57

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