Calculating Adjusted Gross Income When Married

Couple calculating their married adjusted gross income.

What is Adjusted Gross Income?

Adjusted gross income (AGI) is your gross income for the year, minus certain tax deductions. Your AGI is used to calculate how much of your income is subject to tax. Some tax credits use AGI to determine if a person is eligible for the credit.

What AGI do I report if I am married?

If you are married for even one month out of the year, the IRS will require you to enter both your and your spouse’s prior year AGI. Be careful; the AGI you enter must match what the IRS records show for your Social Security Number or your return will be rejected. 

There are four scenarios to consider when looking at your married AGI. 

You and your spouse filed as Married Filing Jointly last year

If you filed Married Filing Jointly last year, put the same number for both of your AGIs this year. This applies even if you or your spouse did not earn any money last year. When you file jointly, the IRS views you as one entity that is taxed, meaning you have the same combined AGI. 

You and your spouse filed as Married Filing Separately last year

If you filed Married Filing Separately last year, enter your different separate AGIs from each of your individual prior year returns. When you file separately, you both have to file a unique return, meaning you will have two separate AGIs.  

You and your spouse were not married last year and filed as Single

If you filed single because you were not married on your return last year, follow the same directions as those who filed Married Filing Separately. Enter each individual’s AGI from your return last year since you were two taxable entities.  

One or both of you did not file a return last year

If either you or your spouse or both of you did not file a return last year, enter a 0 for the person’s AGI. 

If you were looking for information on Modified Adjusted Gross Income, read What is Modified Adjusted Gross Income

The information in this article is current through tax year 2020 (returns filed in 2021).