NEWLYWED CHECK LIST
- If one of you has taken on a new name, notify the Social Security Administration right away. You can do that by filing Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card (website is www.ssa.gov).. When you file your taxes, if the name on the tax return doesn’t match the social security records, your return will be rejected (if you e-filed) and any refund you might have coming will be delayed.
- Notify the IRS if you move by filing Form 8822 Change of Address. The Post Office does not forward certain types of federal and certified IRS mail.
- Also, notify the USPS and file a change of address. This can be done online as well at www.usps.com.
- Notify your employer so that they will mail your W-2 to the right address at the end of the year.
- Commonly forgotten is notification of brokers or other financial institutions so that you get the 1099 forms needed for your taxes at the end of the year. Of course, your own bank should be notified as well.
TAX ISSUES FOR NEWLYWEDS
- Check your withholding. With 2 incomes, you might be in a higher tax bracket and you may want to increase withholding to keep getting those refunds you are used to.
- Choose the right filing status. You can’t file single anymore. If you are married as of 11:59 PM on Dec. 31, you are considered married for the entire year. Your filing status choices now are married filing joint (MFJ) or married filing separate (MFS).
- It is almost always better to file as MFJ but there are special circumstances where MFS might make sense. Such as–
- If both spouses have their own itemized deductions, such as medical, they may be able to claim higher overall deductions if filing MFS
- If one spouse has past due debt with the IRS or other agency, filing separately will prevent the other spouse’s share of any refund from being used to offset debts for which he or she is not liable
- If one spouse is a poor record keeper or is thinking of taking a risky tax situation, the other may want to file separately to avoid becoming liable for additional taxes or penalties.
- Sometimes, spouses with high and similar incomes will pay more taxes if they file jointly.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO LOWER YOUR TAXES
It might be time to do a little tax planning. A few dollars spent now could save you hundreds or even thousands later.
Your tax preparer can do a couple of things now:
- With a couple of recent paystubs and last year’s tax return for each of you, your preparer can probably make a good estimate of what your withholding should be to meet your goals.
- Prepare a fake tax return to identify tax issues that can be mitigated between now and the end of the tax year
Finally, at tax preparation time, have your tax preparer run a check of MFJ vs MFS. With today’s software, that is typically a couple of keystrokes.