5 Tax Tips for Newlyweds
by Susannah McQuitty
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Looking good, putting a ring on it in 2016! Marriage hails in a ton of new changes – your mom’s been saying as much since the engagement – and one of those changes is filing your tax returns as a married couple. It’s a new adventure, so we’ve rustled up a road map for your first round of taxes for newlyweds – with a little help from our sweet friend Karlee Mikkelson, the outstanding photographer who shot and edited our Guatemala videos and shared these gorgeous images with us for the blog today.
Updated name and address with the big dogs
Let’s start with the basics. You want to make sure that your W-2s and other tax forms come to the right place (unless you want the John Doe who just moved into your your old apartment to have your tax info – eek!), so you’ll need to send your new information to the Social Security Administration, the IRS, and your employer.
To change your name, file Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You can get this form at SSA.gov, by calling 800-772-1213, or by visiting your local SSA office. To change your address, file Form 8822, Change of Address to notify the IRS, and also check with your boss to make sure your W-2 comes to the right place. You can ask to have your mail forwarded at USPS.com or report the change at your local post office – sorry, John Doe.
Estimate your taxes
Why guess at your taxes when you can estimate them ahead of time? By running some basic information about your finances through an estimator, you’ll get an educated guess as to what you’re expected to pay in tax OR how much you’ll get back as refund. It’s worth the extra time to be prepared, especially if you owe money to the IRS this year. 1040.com has a great free tax estimator, which is also available as an app in the iTunes App Store and Google Play.
Check your tax bracket
Once you’ve estimated your taxes, check to see if your marital status moves you up to the next tax bracket. Even if you don’t file a joint return (more on that below), you could be boosted into the next bracket simply because you’re married. It’s good to know – especially when you’re about to decide whether to go Dutch on a joint return or separate your finances. Check out our rundown on how tax brackets work.
Decide whether to file separately or jointly
Married filing jointly means that you’ll fill out one tax return that includes both spouses. Filing jointly will probably bump you up a tax bracket, but you might also get more tax breaks by combining credits and deductions.
Married filing separately means each spouse will file their own return. Some couples prefer this way because they like to keep their finances separate, or there is a big difference in the amounts of their individual incomes. It’s important to note, though, that most couples receive a greater overall tax benefit from filing jointly.
When you file using our DIY tax filing app, we’ll help you decide which filing status is best. You can also learn more basics in our Tax Guide or in our infographic, “Which Filing Status is Right for You?”
Adjust your W-4 with your employer
Now we’re thinking ahead to next year – it pays to be prepared! (Literally.) You want to have enough withheld from your paychecks throughout 2017 that when next year rolls around, you’ll owe little to nothing in taxes as a married couple. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator to figure out just how many allowances to claim on your W-4.
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