How you file your taxes has no real impact on your ability to qualify for a mortgage. Lenders use your tax returns to confirm information provided in your mortgage application such as your income and assets. Lenders typically request tax returns for the prior two years for all mortgage applicants.
As long as there are no significant discrepancies between your loan application and your tax return, then it should not matter if you file a joint tax return or if you file your return as married filing separately.
The only difference if you and your spouse file your tax returns as married but filing separately is that you both are required to provide the lender copies of your tax returns as opposed to providing one tax return if you file a joint return.
So if you filed your taxes as married filing separately for past two years then you and your spouse are required to provide a total of four tax returns when you apply for a mortgage -- one return for each of you for two years.
If you and your spouse file your taxes separately this year but filed a joint return the prior year then you are required to provide three total tax returns to the lender -- one return each for the year you filed separately and one combined return for the year you filed jointly.
If you and your spouse file your taxes jointly for the prior two years then you are only required to provide two returns to the lender.
In short, when you apply for a mortgage the information on your tax return is more important than how you filed your return. Lenders want to make sure that your loan application is accurate and they use your tax returns to confirm the information you submitted on your application as well as in other documents you are required to provide such as pay stubs and financial statements.
Review our Mortgage Document Checklist
As long as you can provide two years of tax returns and they confirm and support the other information and documents you provide when you submit your loan application, you should be well-positioned to get approved for your mortgage.
If you have questions about the documents required for a mortgage, including tax returns, we recommend that you contact multiple lenders in the table below to understand their guidelines. Knowing the documents that you are required to provide before you apply for the loan helps you get prepared for the mortgage process.