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6 Tax Tips for Newly Weds

 When the wedding bells are ringing, finances are probably the last thought on your mind. But once the dust settles and the honeymoon glow starts to fade (hopefully, it never will!), life becomes “real” and there are many challenges you and your betrothed will have to face together.

One example that many couples neglect to think about is taxes. The topic is boring, the details are tedious, and the conversation can be uncomfortable. You might be putting it off, or you might be waiting for your accountant to handle it all on your behalf. But it’s much better to plan in advance—at least, if you want to maximize the amount of savings with your filing strategy.

Here are tips you two should talk about before tying the knot, or shortly thereafter.

  1. Dealing with dual withholding

When you work for a company, you’re required to fill out Form W-4 that indicates how much money your employer will withhold from your pay check for tax purposes. After you get married, you may need to submit a new document to reflect the change in your marital status.

At this time, you’ll need to decide your filing status: Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately. Depending on your state, there may be different tax rates for each status. Generally speaking, the IRS rewards joint filers with a lower rate, so it may be in your interest to combine incomes on your return. Keeping finances separated can also help a lot with how you calculate wage garnishment.

Of course, there are many considerations that may play a part in this decision and in some cases, in might make sense to keep your income separate from one another. If you don’t want to be held accountable for the other’s reporting so you never need to seek injured spouse relief tax, you might want to file alone. Talk it through with your partner to find the best solution for your circumstances.

  1. Everyone should know your new name

Many people change their surname to that of their spouse’s, but fewer people remember that they’ll need to update their identity change to the IRS. You won’t necessarily get in trouble should the thought slip your mind, but it could delay your tax refund if the IRS owes you money, but cannot find where to send it.

  1. Updating address after marriage

Did you and your spouse move into a new home to celebrate this special chapter in life? If you did, you’ll need to update your change in address, as well. This is especially true for taxpayers who use online tax filing software, as these platforms often give you the option to automatically populate the forms using information from the year prior.

  1. Workplace benefits

Another thing you might need to think about once you get back from your honeymoon is which spouse has the better benefit package at work. Most employers provide the option to extend benefits to spouses, meaning that you may be able to receive health care at a more affordable rate. If your health insurance premiums decrease, the tax deduction you qualify for will likely change in response.

  1. Think about the charitable side of marriage

When you combine lives, you also combine stuff. But before you start debating over what stays and what goes, think strategically about the charitable donations you might be able to make—and how much you could deduct from your tax return as a result.

Have an extra set of living room furniture? Maybe you could donate an old car to charity? There’s more than likely an item or two (or three!) that you can take to Salvation Army worth $500 or more. You’ll be doing a good deed, decluttering your space, and saving tax dollars at the same time—just remember to get an itemized invoice for proof, should the IRS ever issue an audit.

  1. Don’t forget about state taxes

Often times, a newlywed couple will uproot their lives so that a partner can move their business to a new location that offers greater promises of financial stability. Remember that each state has it’s own tax code and what you paid in Texas income taxes could be wildly lower than your new obligation in the Golden State. Plan ahead and save accordingly to prevent slipping into debt at such an early stage in your marriage.

Talking these things through sooner than later is your best bet. Good luck, and congratulations!

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