Community Property Laws by States

Nine states have community property laws

A map of the nine community property states in the United States of America.
A map of the nine community property states in the United States of America. © Crystal Kantenberger / licensed to About.com

In community property states, married persons are considered to own their property, assets, and income jointly.

For married couples who decide to file separate tax returns, they follow their state's rules for community property. Generally, both spouses must analyze their income to find out how much of their income belongs to the marital community and how much of their income belongs to each spouse separately.

Community income and community deductions are considered owned by each spouse equally.

So when preparing a separate tax return, the general rule is that the spouses report half of their community income and all of their separate income, and report half of their community deductions plus all of their separate deductions. The community property states are:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

More about:

State-specific reference materials:

  • Arizona ITR 93-22 (pdf), Does Arizona follow the provisions of Internal Revenue Code § 66 under which, for federal income tax purposes, community income may be treated as the separate income of the spouse earning the income when separate income tax returns are filed?
  • California FTB Publication 1051A (pdf), Guidelines for Married/RDP Filing Separate Tax Returns