To cynics, it is a little ironic that Independence Day follows so quickly on the heels of the most popular month for weddings. For all of Atlanta’s June brides and grooms, though, the Fourth of July also offers a day to review their post-wedding checklists.
We suggest that taxes should be at the top of that list, especially federal taxes. It would be a shame to spend the first tax season of your married life battling the IRS, scrambling to address issues that could have been addressed months before. The website Bankrate.com offers a helpful list of information you should share with the IRS — and by “share” we mean completing and submitting the appropriate form — including the following:
Name change: If one or both of you have changed your last name, notify the Social Security Administration as soon as possible. Filing your tax return will be much easier if the IRS can match your Social Security number to your new name.
Address change: For the same reason, notify the IRS of an address change as soon as possible. Bankrate.com recommends that both spouses file the form if they checked “single” on their last returns. Doing so will let the IRS know that the change is real and not part of an identity theft scheme.
W-4 withholding: Take a minute to determine if your combined income will push you into a higher tax bracket. The IRS website has tools to help taxpayers figure out if there is a change and how much they should withhold. Spouses will have to complete new W-4s for their employers.
Tax strategy: Speaking of combined income, now is the time to look at how your new marital status will affect your tax obligation. Filing jointly may be more to your advantage than filing separately, or vice versa. The key here is to remember that your tax status changed for the entire year on the date you got married — even if the wedding takes place on Dec. 31.
That review will likely include a review of contributions to employment benefits like retirement accounts and insurance. Work with your employer or broker to make sure the allocations and beneficiaries are up-to-date. And, if you purchase health insurance through an exchange, including Healthcare.gov, make sure you have provided the necessary updates there, too.