If you recently got married within past few months, then you’re probably still getting adjusted to the formal changes of being a married couple. One of the most important of those formal changes is tax information.
As a newly married couple, it’s important for the both of you to be aware of properly updating your tax information - doing so can save you valuable time and money, or even help you avoid a missing refund check. Here are a few steps from the IRS about keeping your tax information current and joint filings.
Step #1 - Correct Names & Numbers
If your recent marriage included a name change, you should make it a priority to notify the Social Security Administration, and update your Social Security card. Correct names and identification numbers are required to claim personal exemptions, or the Earned Income Tax Credit, on your tax return. To easily apply for a new Social Security card, simply file Form SS-5.
Step #2 - Submit Change of Address
With marriage, there’s often a new residence or change of address that is involved. And the U.S. Postal Service will need to know of this change to properly forward any tax refunds or IRS correspondence to your new address. Though the Postal Service can relay your updated address to the IRS, you can notify the IRS yourself with either Form 8822, or by submitting the following to where you last file your tax return:
- Full Name
- Old & New Address
- Social Security Number
Step #3 - Anticipate your Refund Check
If it’s been confirmed that you’re getting a tax refund, then be on the lookout for it. Every year the IRS receives thousands of refund checks marked undeliverable because of incorrect addresses. If your tax refund hasn’t been properly delivered, then something may have gotten lost when updating your information.
The IRS has this feature, appropriately named “Where’s My Refund,” if you need to know the status of your check, or you can contact their refund hotline at (800) 829-1954. For a refund that you know has been marked undeliverable you can call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 to reissue the check.
Step #4 - File the Right Forms
As married taxpayers, you and your spouse may now have enough deductions to itemize on a tax return. There are certain things you both might have paid for throughout the year that can reduce your taxable income such as medical care, mortgage interest, contributions, casualty losses, and miscellaneous costs. To claim itemized deductions, you must file Form 1040.
Step #5 - File with the Correct Status
Based on your marital status, you can choose to file either separately or jointly. Whatever your status is as of December 31 will determine if you can file as married or not for the filing year. You can save a lot of time and money - not to mention avoiding penalties - by choosing the appropriate filing status:
- Married Filing Jointly - A joint return, which allows spouses to combine their income and to deduct combined deductions and expenses on a single tax return. The form must be signed by both spouses, and each are equally responsible for the information filed.
- Married Filing Separately - Separate tax returns in which each spouse is only responsible for their own tax form. Each is taxed on their own individual income, and can only claim deductions and credits that individually apply to them; however, if one spouse itemizes deductions, the other will have to as well.
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