It may not be high on the list of wedding planning activities, but there are a few simple steps that can help keep tax issues from interrupting your newly wedded bliss. If you recently married, check out your new tax situation. You might save money or even prevent the problem of a missing refund check.
The first things to handle are changes of name and address. Later, as tax season approaches, consider whether or not you’ll itemize deductions, which tax return form is right for you and what filing status you’ll use.
No one should delay the cake cutting or honeymoon because of taxes. But here are some helpful hints for later:
Use Your Correct Name
You must provide correct names and identification numbers to claim personal exemptions on your tax return. If you changed your name upon marrying, let the Social Security Administration know and update your Social Security card so the number matches your new name. Use Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card.
Change of Address
If you or your spouse has a new address, notify the U.S. Postal Service so that it will be able to forward any tax refunds or IRS correspondence. The Postal Service will also pass your new address on to IRS for updating. You may also notify to notify the IRS directly by filing Form 8822.
Each year, the Postal Service returns thousands of tax refund checks as undeliverable, usually because the addressee has moved. Notifying both the Postal Service and the IRS of an address change in a timely manner can help ensure the proper delivery of any refund checks. To check the status of a tax refund, go to the IRS web site and use the “Where’s My Refund?” service.
Changing Filing Status
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. Choosing the right filing status may save you money.
A joint return (Married Filing Jointly) 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.
With separate returns (Married Filing Separately), 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 deductions and credits. If one spouse itemizes deductions, the other must also.
Which filing status should you select? It depends entirely on your specific situation. You should consider sitting down with a tax professional to make a determination.