Five Tax Tips for Recently Married Taxpayers

From the IRS…

Are you getting married this summer?  If you recently got married or are planning a wedding, the last thing on your mind is taxes.  However, there are some important steps you need to take to avoid stress at tax time. Here are five tips from the IRS for newlyweds to keep in mind.

  1. Notify the Social Security Administration Report any name change to the Social Security Administration, so your name and Social Security Number will match when you file your next tax return. Informing the SSA of a name change is quite simple. File a Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, at your local SSA office. The form is available on SSA’s website at www.socialsecurity.gov, by calling 800-772-1213 or at local offices.
  2. Notify the IRS If you have a new address you should notify the IRS by sending Form 8822, Change of Address. You may download Form 8822 from IRS.gov or order it by calling 800–TAX–FORM (800–829–3676).
  3. Notify the U.S.Postal Service You should also notify the U.S. Postal Service when you move so it can forward any IRS correspondence.
  4. Notify Your Employer Report any name and address changes to your employer(s) to make sure you receive your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, after the end of the year.
  5. Check Your Withholding If both you and your spouse work, your combined income may place you in a higher tax bracket. You can use the IRS Withholding Calculator available on IRS.gov to assist you in determining the correct amount of withholding needed for your new filing status. The IRS Withholding Calculator will even provide you with a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, you can print out and give to your employer so they can withhold the correct amount from your pay.

Naturally, they leave out the most important tip: Plan on filing jointly! In almost every case, joint filing results in a lower overall tax bill. Many newly married couples don’t file together right away because they’re “not ready to merge our finances.” But filing a joint return doesn’t really require you to merge your finances, you just have to report all income on one form and figure out how you want to divide up any refund or liability.

The one major downside that affects a very small number of filers would be if one spouse has either a significant debt being collected by the IRS or includes fraudulent information on the return without the other spouse’s knowledge. In this case, filing jointly may expose both spouses to collections or other action by the IRS. However, the IRS does offer Injured Spouse Relief and Innocent Spouse Relief specifically to assist spouses caught in either of these situation. You should definitely consult with a professional about your options if you think this may affect you.

Also, if you’ve filed separately in the past, but now think you’d be better off filing jointly, you can go back and amend your return to take advantage of joint filing status. You can do this for up to 3 years after filing your tax return.

However, if you’ve filed jointly, and later decide you’d be better off filing separately, the IRS does not allow you to make this change after the filing deadline has passed for the year you want to change. So it’s important to know the possible situations where it might make sense to file separate. Those situations would be when one spouse has very large medical expenses or employee expenses, or both spouses have incomes well into the six figure range. If you’re in any of these situations, you should at least run the numbers for separate filing to see if it makes sense in your case.

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