July 07, 2021

When tying the knot, you will establish your new home together which will also require financial planning and tax preparedness. This tax to-do checklist offers plain and simple tax advice about what you will need to do in order to be prepared to file your taxes as a married couple. 

Key Term: Tax Advice for Newlyweds

A newlywed is anyone who has just recently been married. The following is an action list newlyweds can follow in order to get prepared to file their taxes as a married couple. The forms listed in the checklist are explained more in-depth in the article below.

Actions to take:

  1. Print and update your new name and address on Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card.
  2. Print IRS Change of Address Form 8822 to update your address to the IRS.
  3. Update your address with the U.S. Postal Service and forward mail.
  4. Print Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance, to update tax withholding with your employers.
  5. Print Form 1040, Income Tax Return, one copy for a married couple filing jointly and two copies for a married couple who is filing separately.

Tax Forms

What tax form do we fill out when submitting our taxes as a married couple?

Form 1040 Income Tax Return is used by all filers regardless of tax status (i.e. single or married). You may find a copy of this form at IRS.gov

You will need to note that Form 1040 EZ and Form 1040 A have been discontinued since 2018. Form 1040 is the only form that is being submitted at this time for income tax returns, with the exception of Form 1040 SR, which is for seniors age 65 and older.

Tax Status

What will your tax status be after marriage?

A tax status is the filing status or classification that defines the type of tax return form a taxpayer will use when filing taxes. The five types of tax status are: single, married filing jointly (MFJ), married filing separately (MFS), head of household, and qualifying widow(er) with dependent children. After marriage, your tax status will change from your being a single filer to being either a married couple filing jointly or a married couple filing separately.

If a couple is married as of December 31, the law states they are married for the whole year for tax purposes.

When filing taxes as a married couple, do we both file?

Married couples, both living, will file either as married filing jointly (MFJ) or as married filing separately (MFS). Married filing jointly (MFJ) means that the married couple will file just one return, which includes both spouse’s income and deductions. Married filing separately (MFS) means that each person will file their own return while keeping income and deductions separate.

Which is better, to file jointly or separately?

The IRS encourages couples to file jointly and extends several tax breaks to those who file together. As a result, it’s considered best for the majority of married couples to file jointly, but there can always be exceptions to that rule. There is no penalty for the married filing separate tax returns, though filing separately often will result in higher taxes than filing jointly. Joint filers get double the standard deduction and have full access to valuable deductions and credits.

Update Changes of Name & Address

What tax advice is there specifically for newlywed couples?

After the wedding, and once things settle down into a new routine for you, you will want to make sure that you have all paperwork in proper order. You will need to report your name and address changes, change your tax withholding allowances with your employer, and assess how your tax bracket may have changed after marriage to understand your tax rate.

To update the change in name and address to the Social Security Administration (SSA), you will need to file Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. The application is available online at SSA.gov, by calling the SSA number 800-772-1213, or visiting the local SSA office. The name entered on a person’s tax return needs to match what is on file at the SSA. As a side note, if you haven’t changed your name yet with the SSA, you can file a joint return with your spouse but make sure you use the name shown on your social security card.

Additionally, if you incurred a change of address after marriage, this new address needs to be reported to the IRS using its IRS Change of Address Form 8822. Additionally, the address change needs to be updated with the U.S. Postal Service. To forward mail, you can go online at USPS.com or to the local post office to apply for a mail forwarding service.

Tax Withholding Certificates

A tax withholding certificate (Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance) is filled out by you and given to your employer at the time of beginning a job. The information you supply on the form is used to calculate how much money to withhold from your paychecks to cover your federal income taxes when due. Newly married couples should estimate and turn in new updated tax withholding certificates with their employers.

For help completing a new Form W-4, you can use the Tax Withholding Estimator on IRS.gov. For more information about estimating tax withholding, taxpayers can also read Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax online at IRS.gov. The form asks your tax status (i.e. single or married) and number of dependents. In general, married couples who file taxes jointly often will have a lower amount withheld from their paychecks than singles.

Tax Brackets

A tax bracket shows the tax rate a person will pay on each portion of their income. Marriage can change your tax bracket. Tax brackets are different for each filing status (i.e. single, married, etc.), so your income may no longer be taxed at the same rate as when you were single. When you are married and file a joint return, your income is combined — which may elevate one or both of you into a higher tax bracket. There are seven federal tax brackets for the year 2021 tax return due in May 2022: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%. The progressive tax system applies high federal income tax rates to those with higher levels of taxable incomes than people who have lower taxable incomes.

Coordinated Benefits

Being married can open up several opportunities to coordinate your employment benefit packages. For instance, if you can be covered by your spouse’s medical plan, you may be able to trade your coverage for additional benefits.

Marriage involves combining two households into one; a married couple might end up selling one or both spouse’s homes; and, once married, the amount of tax-free profit you will receive from the sale of your home doubles from $250,000 to $500,000. Your combined incomes may allow you to purchase a first home; and, when you own a home, interest you pay on your mortgage is also deductible on your tax return.

A couple can give monetary gifts to one another and remain free of gift taxes.

What are Common Tax Credits and Tax Deductions?

Tax credits and deductions can help lower the amount you owe so you pay less taxes.

A tax credit is a credit that can reduce the amount of taxes you owe. Examples include the Child Tax Credit, Adoption Credit, Homeowner Credit, Health Care Credit, Education Credit, and more. The Child Tax Credit is for parents with dependent children. The child tax credit for 2021 is $2,000 per qualifying child. If a taxpayer’s tax liability is less, they might get the remainder refunded to them. The Homeowner Credit is for energy efficient properties. The Health Care Credit includes credits for Health Coverage. Education Credit includes the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.

A tax deduction is a deduction that lowers a person’s tax liability by lowering their taxable income. Couples can maximize their tax return by learning about common deductions they can use to lower their tax liability. Common deductions include:

  • Job hunting expenses
  • Pet moving costs
  • Self-employment expenses
  • Child and department care costs
  • Smoking cessation costs
  • Weight loss expenses
  • Charitable travel costs
  • Pregnancy testing
  • Student Loan Interest
  • Wig costs
  • Energy-saving home improvements
  • College tuition and training costs
  • Military reserve travel costs
  • Qualifying medical expenses

Other deductibles include:

  • Property tax
  • Sales tax
  • Home mortgage interest
  • Moving expenses
  • Charitable contributions
  • Real estate tax

Tax Advice for Newlyweds

Newlyweds now have an actionable checklist to follow for getting prepared to file taxes as a married couple. While this article is informative, it does not replace the importance of seeking proper tax consultations from a professional tax expert who can recommend even more personalized tax tips tailored for your specific needs.

Contact Us Today

If you have recently married and are interested in learning more about filing your income tax return, or have other tax-related questions, then reach out to the tax advisors at Enterprise Consultants Group. We can answer your questions, discuss your rights, and provide actionable options. Please contact us online or at (800) 575-9284 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation to see how we can help you.

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