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Publication 555

Community Property


What's New(p1)

Future developments.(p1)
The IRS has created a page on for more information about Publication 555, at Information about any future developments affecting Publication 555 (such as legislation enacted after we release it) will be posted on that page.

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.


This publication is for married taxpayers who are domiciled in one of the following community property states:
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. For federal tax purposes, a marriage means only a legal union between a man and woman as husband and wife and the word "spouse" refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife. 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.

Nevada, Washington, and California domestic

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. For 2010 and following years, a RDP in Nevada, Washington, or California (or a person in California who is married to a person of the same sex) generally must follow state community property laws and report half the combined community income of the individual and his or her RDP (or California same-sex spouse).
These rules apply to RDPs in Nevada, Washington, and California in 2010 and following years because they have full community property rights in 2010. California RDPs attained these rights as of January 1, 2007. Nevada RDPs attained them as of October 1, 2009, and Washington RDPs attained them as of June 12, 2008. For years prior to 2010, RDPs who reported income without regard to the community property laws may file amended returns to report half of the community income of the RDPs for the applicable periods, but are not required to do so. If one of the RDPs files an amended return to report half of the community income, the other RDP must report the other half.
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.
You can find answers to frequently asked questions by clicking on "Questions and Answers for Registered Domestic Partners in Community Property States and Same-Sex Spouses in California" under Other Items You May Find Useful: at

Comments and suggestions.(p2)

We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can write to us at the following address:

Internal Revenue Service
Individual and Specialty Forms and Publications Branch
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.
You can email us at Please put "Publications Comment" on the subject line. You can also send us comments from Select "Comment on Tax Forms and Publications" under "Information About."
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, call 1-800-829-3676, or write to the address below and receive a response within 10 days after your request is received.

Internal Revenue Service
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613

Tax questions.(p2)
If you have a tax question, check the information available on or call 1-800-829-1040. We cannot answer tax questions sent to either of the above addresses.


Useful items

You may want to see:

 504 Divorced or Separated Individuals
 505 Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax
 971 Innocent Spouse Relief
Form (and Instructions)
 8857: Request for Innocent Spouse Relief

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


Whether you have community property and community income depends on the state where you are domiciled. If you and your spouse (or RDP/California same-sex spouse) have different domiciles, check the laws of each to see whether you have community property or community income.
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 with facts 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.