Getting Married Soon? Tax Issues to Think About!

Article Summary:

  • Filing Status

  • Deductions

  • New Spouse’s Past Liabilities

  • Combining Incomes

  • Healthcare Insurance

  • Spousal IRA

  • Capital Loss Limitations

  • Impact on Parents’ Returns

  • Social Security Administration

  • Internal Revenue Service

  • U.S. Postal Service

  • Withholding & Estimated Tax Payments

  • Health Insurance Marketplace

You think planning a wedding ceremony is complicated? Wait till you see the possible tax issues involved. If you are getting married this year, there is a long list of things you need to be aware of and plan for before tying the knot that can have a significant impact on your taxes. And there are a number of tax-related actions you should take as soon as possible after marriage.  

Considerations Before Marriage

  1. Filing Status – For tax purposes, an individual’s filing status is determined on the last day of the tax year. Thus, regardless of when you get married during the year, you and your new spouse will be treated as married for the entire year and, therefore, can no longer file as single individuals or use the head of household status as you may have done prior to this marriage. Your options are to file using the married joint status, combining your incomes and allowed deductions on one return, or to file two separate returns using the married filing separate status. The latter is not the same as the single status you may have used in the past and can include some negative tax implications. Filing separately in community property states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin) can additionally be complicated. Also, the terms of a prenuptial agreement, if you have one, can affect your filing status choice.

  2. Deductions – The standard deduction for each year is inflation adjusted and for 2023 for a married couple is $27,700 and for a single individual is $13,850. So if both of you have been filing as single and taking the standard deduction, there is no loss in deductions. However, if in past years one of you had enough deductions to itemize and the other took the standard deduction, after marriage you would either have to take the joint standard deduction or itemize, which might result in a loss of some amount of deductions. There could also be an overall reduction of the standard deduction if one or both of you previously filed as head of household.

  3. New Spouse’s Past Liabilities – If your new spouse owes back taxes, past state income tax liabilities or past-due child support or has unemployment income debts to a state, the IRS will apply your future joint refunds to pay those debts. If you are not responsible for your spouse’s debt, you are entitled to request your portion of the refund back from the IRS by filing an injured spouse allocation form.

  4. Combining Incomes – Combining your incomes can push your taxable income into a higher tax bracket than when filing separately, resulting in a significantly higher income tax. The combined higher incomes can also cause you to lose certain tax benefits available to individuals in lower tax brackets, such as:

     - The child tax credit which begins to phaseout when your combined incomes (MAGI) reach $400,000,

     - The child care credit if either or both of you have a child and you both work (because a lower percentage of expenses applies as income increases) and

     - the possible loss or reduction of the earned income tax credit which applies to lower income individuals.

  5. Healthcare Insurance – If either or both of you are obtaining health insurance through a government Marketplace, your combined incomes and change in family size could reduce the amount of the premium tax credit to which you would otherwise be entitled, requiring payback of some or all of the credit applied in advance to reduce your monthly premiums. More complicated yet, if either or both of you are included on your parent’s’ Marketplace policy, those insurance premiums must be allocated from the parents’ return to your return.

  6. Spousal IRA – Spousal IRAs are available for married taxpayers who file jointly where one spouse has little or no compensation; the deduction is limited to the smaller of 100% of the employed spouse’s compensation or $6,500 (2023) for the spousal IRA. That permits a combined annual IRA contribution limit of up to $13,000 for 2023. For each spouse age 50 or older, the maximum increases by $1,000. However, the deduction for contributions to both spouses’ IRAs may be limited if either spouse is covered by an employer’s retirement plan.

  7. Capital Loss Limitations When filing as unmarried, each individual can deduct up to $3,000 of capital losses on their tax return for a possible combined total of $6,000, but a married couple is limited to a single $3,000.

  8. Impact On Parents’ Returns – If your parents have been claiming either of you as a dependent, they will generally lose that benefit. In addition, if you are in college and qualify for one of the education credits, those credits are only available on the return where your dependency applies. That generally means your parents will not be able to claim the education credits even if they paid the tuition.      

Things To Take Care of After Marriage:

  1. Notify the Social Security Administration − Report any name change to the Social Security Administration so that your name and SSN will match when you file your next tax return. Informing the SSA of a name change is quite simple. The Social Security Administration provides an online site to accomplish this task. Your income tax refund may be delayed if it is discovered that your name and SSN don’t match at the time your return is filed.

  2. Notify the IRS - If you have a new address, you should notify the IRS by sending Form 8822, Change of Address.

  3. Notify the U.S. Postal Service - You should also notify the U.S. Postal Service when you move so that any IRS or state tax agency correspondence can be forwarded.

  4. Review Your Withholding and Estimated Tax Payments - If both you and your new spouse work, your combined income may place you in a higher tax bracket, and you may have an unpleasant surprise when preparing your return for the first year of your marriage. On the other hand, if only one of you works, filing jointly with your new spouse can provide a significant tax benefit, enabling you to reduce your withholding or estimated payments. In either case, it may be appropriate to review your withholding (W-4 status) and estimated tax payments, if any, to make sure that you are not going to be under-withheld and that you don’t set yourself up to receive bad news for the next filing season. The IRS provides a W-4 Webpage that provides links to the form and a tax withholding calculator.     

  5. Notify the Marketplace – If you or your spouse has purchased health insurance through a government Marketplace, you must notify the Marketplace of your change in marital status. If you were included on a parent’s health insurance policy through a Marketplace, then the parent must notify the Marketplace. Failure to notify the Marketplace can create tax-filing problems.

If you have any questions about the impact of your new marital status on your taxes, please call this office.

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