Tax Guide for Newly Married Couples
7 Tax Tips for Couples Who Recently Said “I Do”
Just married? Don’t let tax issues interrupt your newly-wedded bliss.
Marriage can change a lot of things, including your taxes. It’s important to realize that getting married can affect your tax situation.
Here are 7 tax tips for newlyweds.
1. Officially Report Your Name Change
If you changed your name after getting married, you should notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) and have your Social Security card updated. This will ensure that your Social Security Number (SSN) matches your new name. For tax purposes, it is necessary to provide correct names and taxpayer identification numbers in order to claim certain tax breaks (such as the Earned Income Tax Credit) on your tax return. If the name on your tax return doesn’t match with what the SSA has on file, it could delay your tax refund.
To report your name change, file Form SS-5 (Application for a Social Security Card) with the Social Security Administration – not the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This form is available on SSA.gov, by calling 1-800-772-1213, or at a local SSA office.
2. Officially Report Your Address Change
If you and/or your spouse have a new address, you should notify the U.S. Postal Service so that any tax refunds or IRS correspondence will be sent to the correct address. You can do this by going online at USPS.com or by visiting your local post office. The Postal Service will pass on your new address information to the IRS, and the IRS will update your tax account.
You can also notify the IRS directly by submitting Form 8822 (Change of Address). Another option is to write to the IRS center where you sent your most recent tax return – make sure to provide your full name, your old and new addresses, your Social Security Number, and your signature.
Remember to tell your employers if your name or address changes, so you can receive your (correct) W-2s after the end of the year.
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3. Consider Adjusting Your Withholding
Depending on your income/tax situation, you may want to consider changing your withholding after you get married. Newly married couples are supposed to give their employers a new Form W-4 (Employee’s Withholding Allowance) within ten days. Keep in mind, if both spouses work, their combined income may move them into a higher tax bracket or trigger the Additional Medicare Tax.
You can use the IRS Withholding Estimator on IRS.gov to help complete a new Form W-4. For more information, see IRS Publication 505 (Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax).
4. Decide on a New Filing Status
According to the IRS, your marital status on December 31 determines whether you are considered married for that year. Married persons may file their federal income tax return either jointly or separately in any given year. However, choosing the right filing status may save you money.
Married Filing Jointly – A joint return allows spouses to combine their income and to deduct combined deductions and expenses on a single tax return. Both spouses must sign the return and both are held responsible for the contents.
Married Filing Separately – With separate returns, each spouse signs, files and is responsible for his or her own tax return. Each is taxed on his or her own income, and can take only his or her individual tax deductions and tax credits. If one spouse itemizes deductions, the other must also.
Figuring the tax both ways can help you determine which filing status will result in the lowest tax – for most couples, it’s filing jointly. For more information about filing status, see IRS Publication 501 (Dependents Standard Deduction, and Filing Information).
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5. Get a Tax Break for Selling a Home
Getting married often involves combining your households into one. Sometimes that means one or both spouses are selling a home. Fortunately, married couples can avoid paying taxes on up to $250,000 or $500,000 from the sale of their home.
To qualify for the $250,000 tax-free profit from selling a home, one spouse must have owned and lived in the house for at least 2 of the last 5 years.
To qualify for the $500,000 tax-free profit from selling a home, at least one spouse must have owned the home for at least 2 of the last 5 years and both spouses must have lived in the home for at least 2 of the last 5 years.
6. Get Your Tax Refund
Thousands of tax refund checks are marked as “undeliverable” by the Postal Service every year. Usually this is because the recipient has moved. Make sure you notify the U.S. Postal Service and the IRS of any address change in a timely manner! This will ensure proper delivery of any tax refund checks, stimulus checks, and other IRS correspondence.
You can check the status of your tax refund by going online and using the IRS “Where’s My Refund” service, or call the IRS Refund Hotline at 1-800-829-1954. If your refund check has been returned to the IRS as undeliverable, you should call the toll-free IRS customer service line at 1-800-829-1040 to arrange for your check to be reissued.
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7. Beware of Tax Scams
The IRS warns all taxpayers to be aware of and avoid tax scams. Remember that the IRS will never initiate contact using email, phone calls, social media, or text messages. First contact generally comes in the mail via the U.S. Postal Service. If you’re wondering whether you owe money to the IRS, you can view your tax account information on IRS.gov to find out.
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