You’ve heard it said before: “The only constant in life is change” (Heraclitus). Fortunately, though, change doesn’t always blindside us – some changes are anticipated and planned for. Marriage is one such change. If you are newly engaged it would be wise to set aside some time to consider the various points below with your soon-to-be spouse in order to make your transition into married life as smooth as possible.
Whether you decide to take your spouse’s last name or hyphenate your last names, you MUST inform the Social Security Administration. They will then automatically send this information to the IRS. If there is a discrepancy between your name and/or Social Security Number on your tax return and your name affiliated with the Social Security Administration, the IRS will reject your return. You can file for a name change at www.ssa.gov.
If you and your spouse move to a new address, this too should be updated with the IRS. You should fill out Form 8822 and mail it to the IRS. Don’t forget other services that will require new addresses, such as the United States Postal Service and your Health Insurance providers.
Filing Jointly Vs. Filing Separately
Determining your filing status is crucial to calculating how much tax you will owe and whether or not you qualify for certain deductions or credits. Depending on your tax situation, one might be better than the other.
First, remember that if you were legally married as of December 31st of the current tax year, the IRS considers you to have been married for the entire year; therefore, you MUST decide whether to file jointly or separately.
- Married Filing Jointly. On your tax return you will include both you and your spouse’s income, exemptions, deductions, and credits on one tax return.
- Married Filing Separately. You will report your own income, exemptions, deductions, and credits on two separate tax returns. However, should you choose this option some tax breaks will be restricted or unavailable for you to take advantage of, and you are still required to list your spouse’s name and their SSN on your tax return to inform the IRS who you are married-filing-separately from.
After getting married, we advise that you both adjust the tax withholding from your paychecks by completing a new W-4 and submitting this form to your employer. The goal with withholdings is to match the amount of tax that you will owe during the year to avoid owing too much during tax time, and to avoid owing any possible late-payment penalties. Take into consideration the benefits at each of your workplaces to see if you can be covered under each other’s benefits and save!
We understand that making these decisions is no easy task, especially when you’ve undergone such a life-changing event as marriage! If you’re newly married and would like some assistance in making these decisions or if you’ve been married for many years but would like to see how you can save more come tax time, contact us! Our tax planning services can help you do just that.