Can Two People Who Are Married at Common Law File Taxes Jointly?

by Jimmy Verner

There are two types of marriages in the United States. One type of marriage is the ceremonial marriage. A ceremonial marriage takes place when the parties obtain a marriage license, then celebrate their marriage before an official who has the power to perform marriages. The other kind of marriage is marriage at common law. Only a handful of states allow common law marriages when the spouses agree that they are married, live together, and hold themselves out to be husband and wife.

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IRS Recognizes Common Law Marriage

The Internal Revenue Code allows a married couple to file a joint tax return. To determine whether a couple is married, the federal government looks to state law. The Internal Revenue Code allows a couple that claims to be married at common law to file jointly if they are living together in a common law marriage in a state that recognizes common law marriages. The Internal Revenue Code also permits a couple that married at common law in a state allowing common law marriages to file a joint tax return even when they now live in a state that does not recognize common law marriages.