Publication 555

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Community Property


This publication is for married taxpayers who are domiciled in one of the following community property states:

  • Arizona,
  • California,
  • Idaho,
  • Louisiana,
  • Nevada,
  • New Mexico,
  • Texas,
  • Washington, or
  • Wisconsin.

This publication does not address the federal tax treatment of income or property subject to the “community property” election under Alaska state laws.

Community property laws affect how you figure your income on your federal income tax return if you are married, live in a community property state or country, and file separate returns. Your tax usually will be less by filing a joint return if you are married. Sometimes it can be to your advantage to file separate returns. If you and your spouse file separate returns, you have to determine your community income and your separate income.

Community property laws also affect your basis in property you inherit from a married person who lived in a community property state.

Nevada, Washington, and California domestic partners. This publication is also for registered domestic partners (RDPs) who are domiciled in Nevada, Washington, or California and for individuals in California who, for state law purposes, are married to an individual of the same sex. A RDP in Nevada, Washington, or California (or a person in California who is married to a person of the same sex) generally must report half the combined community income earned by the individual and his or her domestic partner (or same-sex spouse).

For tax years beginning after 2006, a California RDP must* report ½ of the community income, whether received in the form of compensation for personal services or income from property, on his or her federal income tax return. The same rule applies to a Nevada RDP after September 30, 2009, and a Washington RDP after June 11, 2008.

RDPs (and individuals in California who are married to an individual of the same sex) are not married for federal tax purposes. They can use only the single filing status, or if they qualify, the head of household filing status.

* Unofficial comment here: please see the CCAs shown on the Domestic Partner/RDP/same-sex married recap page, as the actual requirements for prior years are explained more fully there.


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