MOUNTAINSIDE – 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 newly-wedded bliss.
“With the spring wedding season in full swing, the IRS advises the soon-to-be married and the just married to review their changing tax status,” said IRS Spokesperson Gregg Semanick. “Among those tax-related changes that newlyweds should think about now are notification of change of name and change of address as well as updating their withholding via Form W-4. Later, as filing season approaches, they should consider itemizing their deductions, selecting the right tax return form to use and choosing their filing status.”
No one should delay the cake cutting or honeymoon because of taxes. But here are some helpful tips for later:
Use The Correct Name
Taxpayers must provide correct names and identification numbers on their tax returns. If a bride takes her husband’s new last name, but doesn’t tell the Social Security Administration about the name change, a complication may result. If the couple files a joint tax return with her new name, the IRS computers will not be able to match the new name with the Social Security Number. A taxpayer who changes a last name upon marrying should let the Social Security Administration know and should update the Social Security card so the number matches the new name. Form SS-5, “Application for a Social Security Card,” is available through the SSA Web site at www.ssa.gov or by calling toll-free 1-800-772-1213.
Report Your Change Of Address
If one or both spouses are changing their address, they should notify the IRS, as well as the U.S. Postal Service, to be sure they receive any tax refunds or IRS correspondence. It’s a simple process. To notify the IRS, all they have to do is send in Form 8822, “Change of Address Form.” This form is available by calling the IRS at 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676) or on the IRS Web site at IRS.gov. Or they can write to the IRS center where they filed their most recent return. They should include their full name, old and new addresses, SSN and signature. And they should remember to let their employers know about any name or address changes so they can continue to receive their paychecks and W-2s.
Select The Right Form
Choosing the right individual income tax form can help save money. Newly married taxpayers may find that they now have enough deductions to itemize on their tax returns. Deductions for money paid for medical care, mortgage interest, real estate taxes, state and local income taxes or general sales taxes, charitable contributions, casualty losses and certain miscellaneous costs can reduce federal taxes. Form 1040, which is used to report all types of income, deductions and credits, is the one to use if itemizing. Forms 1040EZ and 1040A do not allow such itemization.
Tax forms may be obtained from the IRS Web site at IRS.gov or by calling the toll-free Forms and Publications line at 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).
Choose The Best Filing Status
A person’s marital status on December 31 determines whether the person is considered married for that year. The tax law allows married couples to choose to file their federal income tax return either jointly or separately in any given year. Choosing the right filing status can help save 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.
Figuring the tax both ways can determine which filing status will result in the lowest tax – usually, it’s filing jointly. More detailed information on filing status can be found in Publication 501, “Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information,” on the IRS Web site at IRS.gov or requesting the publication by calling the IRS at 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).
Check Your Withholding
Individuals should also check their withholding due to a change in their filing status. The change in filing status may alter the amount of taxes due at years’ end.
Wage earners can adjust the amount withheld by giving the employer a new Form W-4. This form asks for marital status, withholding allowances and any additional amount that needs to be withheld.
Employers use the information on the W-4 to figure the taxes to be withheld from employee compensation according to calculation methods provided by the IRS.
Those looking for assistance in figuring out whether they are withholding enough can get help from IRS Pub. 919, “How Do I Adjust My Tax Withholding?” Pub. 919 and Form W-4 are available at www.irs.gov or by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).
On-line help is also available at the IRS Web site. Click on “IRS Withholding Calculator” on the “Individuals” page. With the help of current pay stubs and a copy of last year’s tax form, users can check to see if they are withholding the right amount. Information from this calculator can then be used to revise a W-4.
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