Few changes in life affect your taxes as significantly as beginning or ending a marriage. These Q&As may be helpful if you have been recently married or divorced. In most cases, you pay less tax by filing jointly. You do not qualify for certain tax breaks, or your tax breaks may be limited, if you use the Married Filing Separately filing status. For example, you cannot take education credits, the student loan interest deduction, or the rental real estate loss allowance if you lived together and file separately. Also, you cannot take the Child and Dependent Care Credit or the Adoption Credit if you file separately, unless you lived apart for the last six months of the year.
Tax Tips for Recently Married Taxpayers
Married Filing Separately (MFS) taxpayers are only responsible for their income and taxes (and not for a spouse), but may not be eligible to claim the following tax benefits:
- Tuition and fees deduction
- Student loan interest deduction
- Tax-free exclusion of US bond interest
- Tax-free exclusion of Social Security Benefits
- Credit for the Elderly and Disabled
- Child and Dependent Care Credit
- Earned Income Credit
- Education Credits
Other drawbacks of Married Filing Separately:
- Taxpayers have a much lower income phase-out range for IRA deductions.
- Both spouses must claim the standard deduction, or both must itemize their deductions. One spouse cannot claim the standard deduction if the other is itemizing.
- This filing status generally pays the most tax of all the filing statuses.
If you have recently gotten married or plan to get married in the near future, the IRS has some tips to help you avoid stress at tax time.
- Notify the Social Security Administration: Report any name change to the Social Security Administration, so your name and SSN will match when you file your next tax return. Informing the SSA of a name change is quite simple. File a Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security card at your local SSA office. The form is available on SSA’s Web site at www.socialsecurity.gov, by calling 800-772-1213 or at local offices.
- Notify the IRS: If you have a new address you should notify the IRS by sending Form 8822, Change of Address. You may download Form 8822 below or order it by calling 800–TAX–FORM (800–829–3676).
- Notify the U.S. Postal Service: You should also notify the U.S. Postal Service when you move so it can forward any IRS correspondence.
- Notify Your Employer: Report any name and address changes to your employer(s) to ensure receipt of your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement after the end of the year.
- Check Your Withholding: If both you and your spouse work, your combined income may place you in a higher tax bracket. You can use the IRS Withholding Calculator available on IRS.gov to assist you in determining the correct amount of withholding needed for your new filing status. The IRS Withholding Calculator will even provide you with a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate you can print out and give it to your employer so they can withhold the correct amount from your pay.
Bottom line: planning for your wedding may be over, but don’t forget about planning for the tax-related changes that marriage brings. More information about changing your name, address and income tax withholding is available on IRS.gov. IRS forms and publications can be obtained from IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Additional IRS Links on the Tax Consequences of Getting Married:
- Form 8822, Change of Address (PDF)
- IRS Withholding Calculator
- W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate (PDF)
YouTube Video on Getting Married and Taxes:
- Getting Married? – English