Wife and husband business partnership:
If the second spouse has an equal say in the affairs of the business, provides substantially equal services to the business, and contributes capital to the business, then a partnership type of relationship exists and the business’s income is reported on Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income (PDF).
Both spouses file a separate Schedule C to report carrying on the trade or business:
This was made law on May 25, 2007 by the Small Business and Work Opportunity Act of 2007 and affect changes to the treatment of qualified joint ventures of married couples not treated as partnerships.
The provision generally permits a qualified joint venture whose only members are a husband and wife filing a joint return not to be treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes. A qualified joint venture is a joint venture involving the conduct of a trade or business, if (1) the only members of the joint venture are a husband and wife, (2) both spouses materially participate in the trade or business, and (3) both spouses elect to have the provision apply.
Under the provision, a qualified joint venture conducted by a husband and wife who file a joint return is not treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes. All items of income, gain, loss, deduction and credit are divided between the spouses in accordance with their respective interests in the venture. Each spouse takes into account his or her respective share of these items as a sole proprietor. Thus, it is anticipated that each spouse would account for his or her respective share on the appropriate form, such as Schedule C. For purposes of determining net earnings from self-employment, each spouse’s share of income or loss from a qualified joint venture is taken into account just as it is for Federal income tax purposes under the provision (i.e., in accordance with their respective interests in the venture).
This generally does not increase the total tax on the return, but it does give each spouse credit for social security earnings on which retirement benefits are based. However, this may not be true if either spouse exceeds the social security tax limitation.
CLICK HERE to learn why a husband and wife might want to make the election not to be treated as a partnership.
One spouse employed by another
If your spouse is your employee, not your partner, you must pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for him or her. The wages for the services of an individual who works for his or her spouse in a trade or business are subject to income tax withholding and Social Security and Medicare taxes, but not to FUTA tax. For more information, refer to Publication 15, Circular E, Employer Tax Guide.