When filing taxes jointly as a married couple, which of the following is accurate (or are none accurate)?

  • Husband's total salary will be added to wife's salary
  • Wife's total salary will be added to husband's salary
  • Lowest salary is added to the maximum salary

Thank you in advance

  • 3
    What do you think would be difference between these options? All of them are adding the same two numbers together, giving the same result.
    – BrenBarn
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 2:23

1 Answer 1


Based on your question, it sounds like you're wondering which salary would be the "primary" on a joint tax return. The answer is neither. It doesn't matter which salary is entered first or second. When I file our taxes, I put my info first because I get it before my wife's comes in. It used to be that her info arrived first, so I entered hers onto the tax forms first. It's a joint filing, not a primary with secondary.

You're not adding salaries together. You're filing 2 separate salaries on the same form. For each salary (assuming not self-employed), you should each have a W-2 at the end of the year to enter.

However, there is a general recommendation to keep it consistent year-over-year: Significance of first name on joint tax return

  • Thank you but final question why to file two W-2 as we are filing jointly tax
    – teja
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 22:06
  • 3
    W-2's are not things you file. That is the form your employer sends you with information about your pay for the year. You use the W-2 to fill in the information on your 1040. You should have a W-2 for every employer you (or your spouse) work for, but only one 1040 form. For instance, last year I had 2 W-2's because I changed jobs in the middle of the year. My wife had a W-2 as well, so we put the info from 3 W-2's onto our 1040, which was filed jointly.
    – BobbyScon
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 22:55
  • The advice for married couples when completing the W-4 form is to enter 0 exemptions on the W-4 for the smaller salary. This makes is more likely that the withholding will be most accurate, thus reducing the likelihood of owing a large amount at the en of the year. The W-4 form as a worksheet for two income situations. Commented May 17, 2016 at 10:49

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