Tax return for couples

Marriage doesn't just affect marital status. The tax changes are also very strong. The so-called splitting advantage is why many get married because of the tax.


    Tax return for married couples: the spouse splitting

    Married couples and registered civil partners can file tax returns together or choose to file two separate tax returns. If you decide on a joint assessment, the spouse splitting applies to you . This often results in tax benefits compared to individual assessments.     

    On this page we will show you the tax advantages of joint assessment, how it works and how you can save a lot of time and nerves with the tax return.

    You should note the following: 

    • Married couples and registered partnerships can submit a joint tax return.  
    • You must have been married at least one day a year.  
    • The higher your income difference, the greater the financial advantage.  
    • As a couple, you will receive a joint tax assessment.  


    This is how spouse splitting works

    Do you decide with your partner for the joint assessment you can use the spouse splitting. This also applies to registered life partners. Decisive is the civil marriage or entering a civil partnership in the case of same-sex couples.  

    With splitting, the tax office adds your income to that of your partner and divides this sum by two. The income tax is then calculated for this result. This is now doubled again. This is the income tax you have to pay as a married couple.   

    This is particularly worthwhile if the income difference between you and your partner is particularly large.  

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    A joint investment offers these advantages

    If you get married, you get tax benefits. That sounds all well and good, but how exactly does that affect you? Whether or not you enjoy these benefits ultimately depends on how much you earn and, above all, whether there are differences in the level of income.  

    Some advantages that result from this can be:

    • Less effort: If you wish, you can only submit one tax return together
    • Tax advantages: You are assessed together and can save taxes as a result
    • Higher allowances in your favour as many allowances double after a marriage


    What tax classes can married couples use?

    Joint investment offers many advantages. We show you here which tax class combinations are available:

    • Both Tax class IV (German): After the marriage, the tax office automatically assigns you to tax class IV, even if only one of you has an income. This combination is particularly useful if you both work and earn about the same. There is no obligation to file a tax return here, but it makes sense to benefit from all allowances and lump sums. 
    • Tax class IV with factor (German): In this tax class combination, you already benefit from the splitting advantage during the year. Nevertheless, the wage tax for both of you is higher overall in this combination than in the combination 3 /5. In doing so, you avoid having to pay back taxes. In the splitting procedure, the tax office calculates your joint expected income tax. As a result, you can already benefit from a lower income tax burden during the year. However, filing a tax return is mandatory here.
    • Tax class III (German) and Tax class V (German): In Variant 2, tax classes III and V are merged. This is particularly useful if one of you earns at least 60% of your joint income. Those of you who earn more are taxed in class III: His/her net salary is significantly higher because the basic allowance is doubled in this tax class. In return, the partner with less income has to pay more income tax and has no tax exemptions. In this combination, however, there is an obligation to submit a (joint) tax return.

    Here (German) we show you all tax classes in the overview.

    Please note:

    The splitting benefit is always retrospective for the whole year. So if you got married on December 31st, from a tax point of view you have been married since the beginning of the year.


    Registered civil partnership: tax peculiarities

    Married couples use splitting and thereby save more taxes. But what about couples who are not married?

    Registered civil partnership for man and woman?

    Many ask themselves again and again: Is a heterosexual partnership also a registered civil partnership? This is a special topic with regard to taxes. Because man and woman can only enjoy tax benefits in marriage: splitting. When a civil partnership is mentioned in laws and offices, the registered civil partnership for same-sex couples is always meant.    

    In many other countries in the world, a man and a woman can live in a registered civil partnership. However, Germany is still an exception with its equal tax treatment of marriage and registered civil partnership through the use of the splitting advantage.

    Registered civil partnerships are equivalent to marriages

    Same-sex couples have been able to join in registered civil partnerships since 2001. From a purely formal point of view, they should be put on the same footing as a marriage. But the federal government did not want that with a view to taxes. Registered life partners were not allowed to use the splitting.

    First in 2013, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the spouse splitting must also apply to registered civil partnerships. The unequal treatment was unconstitutional. This allowed same-sex couples to use splitting retroactively to 2001, provided they were in a registered civil partnership.


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    This applies to unmarried couples without a registered civil partnership

    Unfortunately, unmarried couples without a registered civil partnership cannot benefit from spouse splitting. But can you hope for other tax benefits? The fact is that marriage-like communities are treated differently from marriages and registered civil partnerships, so basically everyone is assessed individually.

    Nevertheless, non-marital partnerships can look forward to some tax advantages.

    Tax class

    Unfortunately, unmarried couples cannot take advantage of the splitting tariff and are treated as two individuals for tax purposes. However, in order to avoid disadvantages within the tax class, it is advisable to largely align the taxable income by splitting it up.


    There are no disadvantages for children, they are treated the same as the children of married couples and therefore have the same rights.

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    More about tax returns for couples

    Deduct wedding expenses

    Find out here how and whether you can claim the costs of your wedding for tax purposes.

    Tax return for widows (German)

    Find out how to do a tax return as a widower and what you have to consider.

    Tax class III: The benefits for married couples

    Find out here whether it is worth switching to tax class III.

    Tax class 4: Only for married couples

    Find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of tax class IV here.

    Tax class 4 with a factor - is it worth it?

    Find out here whether tax class IV with a factor can offer you financial advantages.

    Tax class 5: Benefits for married couples

    Switching to tax class V can be worthwhile.


    Tax returns for couples: ELSTER vs. Taxfix

    As you have already read, Taxfix is ​​very different from the classic one ELSTER (German) Online service from the tax office. Couples who file their tax returns with ELSTER have to fill out complex forms that are often not easy to understand.

    The questions of Taxfix app are intuitive, simply formulated and each offer an explanation box, should you ever get stuck. In addition, at ELSTER you usually have to fill out several forms, whereas at Taxfix you can complete the question-and-answer process in one go. Meanwhile, you can switch from smartphone to app and back - your data is constantly synchronized.

    We also suggest deductible expenses that you might not have thought of. Combined with the plausibility check for your entries, there is practically nothing standing in the way of your tax refund. And best of all: You completed the flow of questions in less than half an hour on average!

    Try it here!

    About Taxfix

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