Should You Get Joint Or Separate Income Tax Filing As A Couple?

save more with joint or separate tax filing

Most people have the perception that a couple enter into a wedded bliss – the most perfect and romantic time of a couple’s life together – right after their wedding.

Along with its many joys, marriage brings new challenges. Like it or not, saying the words “I do” means committing, among other things, to making joint decisions. One such decision relates to taxes – more specifically, whether to file separate or joint tax returns.

Choosing the appropriate filing status is a major tax decision for newlyweds. According to Section 45 of Malaysia’s Income Tax Act 1967, all married couples in Malaysia have the right to choose whether to file individual or joint taxes.

So, which tax status should you choose? Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but here are some facts to help married couples make an educated decision.

Seperate vs Joint 2

As a general rule of thumb, if both husband and wife draw high incomes in the year of assessment, it is always advisable to opt for separate assessment to leverage on the tax reliefs and deductibles available.

In the event of separate individual assessment with children, it will be more worthwhile to claim for child relief under the spouse with the higher income.


The best way to find out if you should file jointly or separately with your spouse is to prepare the tax return both ways. Double check your calculations and then look at the net refund or balance due from each method.

If you use e-filing to file for your tax returns, you will be able to see the tax due for each individual and compare it with the joint assessment. This way, you will be able to see which filing status gives you the biggest tax savings.

Find out everything you need to know about filing taxes in Malaysia with our personal income tax guide.
This article was first published in February 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Get free weekly money tips!

*Free of charge. Unsubscribe anytime.
newsletter image