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Publication 555

Community Property


Future Developments(p1)

For the latest information about developments related to Publication 555, such as legislation enacted after it was published, go to

What's New(p1)

Same-sex marriages.(p1)
For federal tax purposes, marriages of couples of the same sex are treated the same as marriages of couples of the opposite sex. The term "spouse" includes an individual married to a person of the same sex. However, individuals who have entered into a registered domestic partnership, civil union, or other similar relationship, that isn't considered a marriage under state law, aren't considered married for federal tax purposes.

Important Reminder(p1)

Photographs of missing children.(p1)
The Internal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.



Community property laws generally.(p1)

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. If you are married, your tax usually will be less if you file married filing jointly than if you file married filing separately. However, 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. See Death of spouse, later.
This publication does not address the federal tax treatment of income or property subject to the "community property" election under Alaska state laws.
Married individuals.(p2)
This publication is for married taxpayers who are domiciled in one of the following community property states:
Registered domestic partners.(p2)
This publication is also for registered domestic partners who are domiciled in Nevada, Washington, or California. Registered domestic partners in Nevada, Washington, or California generally must follow state community property laws and report half the combined community income of the individual and his or her registered domestic partner.
Registered domestic partners are not married for federal tax purposes. They can use the single filing status, or if they qualify, the head of household filing status.
You can find answers to frequently asked questions by going to and clicking on Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Registered Domestic Partners and Individuals in Civil Unions under Other Items You May Find Useful.

Comments and suggestions.(p2)

We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can send us comments from Click on "More Information" and then on "Give us feedback."
Or you can write to:

Internal Revenue Service
Tax Forms and Publications
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526
Washington, DC 20224

We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.
Although we cannot respond individually to each comment received, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.
Ordering forms and publications.(p2)
Visit to download forms and publications. Otherwise, you can go to to order current and prior-year forms and instructions. Your order should arrive within 10 business days.
Tax questions.(p2)
If you have a tax question not answered by this publication, check and How To Get Tax Help at the end of this publication.


Useful items

You may want to see:

 504  Divorced or Separated Individuals
 505  Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax
 971  Innocent Spouse Relief
Forms (and Instructions)
 8857: Request for Innocent Spouse Relief
 8958: Allocation of Tax Amounts Between Certain Individuals in Community Property States

See How To Get Tax Help near the end of this publication for information about getting these publications and forms.


The law of the state where you are domiciled will determine if you have community property, community income, or both. If you and your spouse (or your registered domestic partner) have different domiciles, check the laws of each to see if you have community property, community income, or both.
You have only one domicile even if you have more than one home. Your domicile is a permanent legal home that you intend to use for an indefinite or unlimited period, and to which, when absent, you intend to return. The question of your domicile is mainly a matter of your intention as indicated by your actions. You must be able to show that you intend a given place or state to be your permanent home. If you move into or out of a community property state during the year, you may or may not have community income.
Factors considered in determining domicile include:

Amount of time spent.(p3)

The amount of time spent in one place does not always explain the difference between home and domicile. A temporary home or residence may continue for months or years while a domicile may be established the first moment you occupy the property. Your intent is the determining factor in proving where you have your domicile.
Note. When this publication refers to where you live, it means your domicile.