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If you were one of the 4 million people who got married in 2013, congratulations! Now it’s time to begin a time-honored, married-couples tradition: filing taxes.
First Things First
To make your first tax-filing as a couple as smooth as possible, you’ll need to take care of a few things first.
- Notify the IRS of your address change by filing IRS Form 8822.
- If you’ve changed your name, report that change to the Social Security Administration so your name and Social Security Number match on your tax forms. If they don’t, the IRS will hold your tax refund until you resolve the issue. Fill out form SS-5 and file it at your local Social Security office. If you don’t have time to change your name before the tax deadline, wives can file with their husbands using their maiden names. But make sure you take care of the name change by next year.
- Notify your employer of your name and/or address change to make sure you receive your W-2 on time and with the correct information.
- Adjust your withholding from your paycheck to reflect the change in your household income. You don’t want a huge refund—that means you’re lending your money to Uncle Sam interest-free for a year. Make sure that money makes it to your paycheck where it will do you the most good!
When You’re Ready to File
Filing as a couple isn’t much different than filing as an individual. Simply report your and your spouse’s incomes and deduct your combined allowable expenses. You can check to see if filing separately will lower your tax bill, but for most couples, it won’t make a difference.
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You and your spouse will also have to decide whether to itemize or take the standard deduction. The standard deduction for married couples filing jointly is $12,200 this year. If your individual deductions such as property taxes, certain types of interest, medical expenses, charitable giving, etc. add up to more than the standard deduction, you could benefit from the extra hassle of itemizing.
Marriage a Tax-Time Bonus (for Some)
Most couples will find that filing jointly reduces their tax bills. That’s because in the lower tax brackets, income limits for married couples are double the limits for a single filer.
For example, if you file separately and you make $40,000 a year while your spouse makes $32,000, you would end in the 25% tax bracket and your spouse would be in the 15% tax bracket. By filing together, you both pay the 15% tax rate.
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Couples with similar incomes in higher tax brackets, however, could end up paying higher tax rates by filing a joint return. But it also depends on the deductions and credits you qualify for.
Work With a Tax Pro and Know It’s Done Right
Your first year as a married couple is stressful enough. Don’t add to that stress by trying to do your income taxes on your own. Work with a tax professional who will help you decide if you should itemize or file separately and show you which deductions you qualify for.
Dave’s tax Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) are experienced tax experts you can trust to get your taxes done right. Find your ELP today!