How to File Taxes if You’re Not Married But Living Together

Tax Filing for Unmarried Couples

Filing taxes as a couple can be complicated, especially if you’re not married. There are various factors to consider when determining how to report income and other tax details. Whether you are in a long-term relationship or just started living together, it is important to understand the steps you need to take when filing your taxes. Let’s break down what you need to know.

The Basics of Tax Filing for Unmarried Couples

If both partners in an unmarried couple file separate tax returns, then each person is responsible for reporting only their own income and deductions. Each taxpayer should use their own Social Security Number (SSN). However, if one partner has no SSN, they must obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) from the IRS.

This process requires filling out Form W-7 and providing supporting documents that prove your identity, such as a passport or birth certificate. If both partners have ITINs, then they should file separately using their respective numbers.

Head of Household Filing Status

If one partner earns more than the other partner and provides the majority of support for the home—such as rent or mortgage payments—then they may be able to qualify for head of household status on their tax return.

To qualify as head of household with an unmarried partner, both parties must have lived together for at least six months out of the year and one partner must have paid at least 50% of household expenses during that time period. In addition, this filing status requires that neither partner was claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer on their tax return.

Typically, taxpayers who claim head of household status receive more favorable deductions than those who do not qualify for this filing status—so it is worth exploring whether or not you are eligible before filing taxes separately.

Filing Jointly vs Separately

Another option available to unmarried couples is filing jointly on one tax return instead of two separate returns. This option can offer certain financial benefits due to its lower taxable rate compared with filing separately; however, there can also be some drawbacks if one partner has debts or back taxes due from previous years since both taxpayers will be liable for any unpaid balances owed after submitting a joint return. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider all aspects before deciding whether or not joint filing makes sense for your situation this year.


Filing taxes as an unmarried couple can be confusing because there are several different options available depending on your individual circumstance and goals. Generally speaking though, taxpayers should consider obtaining ITINs if necessary and exploring whether they qualify for head of household status in order to maximize deductions while maintaining accuracy in reporting income sources and amounts correctly on individual returns or joint filings with an unmarried partner. By taking these steps now while preparing your taxes this year, you can save yourself headaches in future years when dealing with taxes again!