If you tied the knot in 2018, there are several things you can do now, to make tax season a lot easier.
Before you file your return, be sure to report name changes to the Social Security Administration. This can be done with a Form SS-5 Application for a Social Security Card. You will also want to report address changes to the US Postal Service, IRS, and your employer. The IRS will need a completed Change of Address Form 8822. You can stop in at your local post office or visit their website to complete your address change with them. This step will help to ensure that you receive all of the necessary tax paperwork in time to complete your return and you won’t have to chase it down next year. Remember, you are considered married for the entire tax year, regardless of what date you say “I Do”.
You now have more than 1 person to consider with your W4 paycheck withholding. Be sure to use the Withholding Calculator to verify which withholding status is best for your new situation. Then follow-up with your employer to change if needed.
There are some definite positives to be realized through marriage from a tax perspective. We reviewed many of these advantages in our post Married….the Pros and Cons of Filing Separately. Filing with a spouse allows a greater deduction for charitable contributions made throughout the year. Along the lines of charity, you are legally allowed to leave any amount of money to your spouse without estate taxes being inflicted. Similarly, you may give cash or property gifts without worry of gift taxes. Filing married usually leads to higher returns, takes less time than filing 2 returns, and generally costs less than filing 2 returns. With those larger returns, you can pay off debt, invest some in an IRA, or any of the countless options we shared in Spending Your Refund. Some additional perks include being able to claim two personal exemptions and a higher standard deduction.
There are of course some negatives to consider, as with anything. Filing married makes you responsible for your new spouse’s old debt. It will be harder to deduct for medical expenses because of your higher level of combined income. While these risks should be considered, they’re certainly no reason to prevent walking down the aisle. Just do your research and be prepared ahead of time……and congratulations!