Getting married? The arrival of summer is also the start of the wedding season. Marriage changes many things! Our research shows there are a few things you should know about tax and legal considerations as you are getting ready to tie the knot!
The IRS provides a tax checklist for newly married couples:
Name and address changes
- Name. When a name changes through marriage, it is important to report that change to the Social Security Administration. The name on a person's tax return must match what is on file at the SSA. If it doesn't, it could delay any tax refund. To update information, taxpayers should file Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. It is available on SSA.gov, by calling 800-772-1213 or at a local SSA office.
- Address. If marriage means a change of address, the IRS and U.S. Postal Service need to know. To do that, people should send the IRS Form 8822, Change of Address. Taxpayers should also notify the postal service to forward their mail by going online at USPS.com or their local post office.
- After getting married, couples should consider changing their withholding. Newly married couples must give their employers a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance within 10 days. If both spouses work, they may move into a higher tax bracket or be affected by the additional Medicare tax. They can use the Tax Withholding Estimator on IRS.gov to help complete a new Form W-4. Taxpayers should review Publication 505, Tax Withholding, and Estimated Tax for more information.
- Married people can choose to file their federal income taxes jointly or separately each year. While filing jointly is usually more beneficial, it's best to figure the tax both ways to find out which works best. Remember, if a couple is married as of December 31, the law says they're married for the whole year for tax purposes.
- When you get married, your tax filing status changes for the whole year. Before you file, take the time to learn the different filing statuses and which one is best for you: go.usa.gov/xdpXb
The writers at Findlaw suggest that it is also always important to check the marriage requirements in your state and/or to speak with a family law attorney because each state is different when it comes to marriage-related issues such as the legal requirements for marriage and the specifics of pre-marital agreements. How many couples do not think of this as they make marriage arrangements?
Legal Marriage Requirements
Each state has its own requirements for couples wanting to get married, including marriage licenses, blood tests, residency requirements, among others. Make sure you and your future spouse have fulfilled all marriage requirements in your state prior to the big day.
Most states have legal requirements pertaining to the marriage ceremony itself, including who may perform the marriage ceremony (i.e. a justice of the peace or a minister) and whether witnesses to the ceremony are required.
A prenuptial (or “pre-marital”) agreement can help define the property and financial rights and obligations of marrying spouses, including what will happen if the marriage relationship ends. If you're considering entering into a pre-marital agreement, law experts say you should be aware of legal requirements that must be met in order for the agreement to be considered valid and enforceable. More information on prenuptial agreements can be found here.
Changing Your Name After Marriage
Although neither spouse is legally required to take the other spouse's last name after marriage, many new spouses choose to change their name for traditional and symbolic reasons. There are a number of steps you can take to make a name change quickly and effectively. Here's a list compiled by Findlaw.
Marriage, Money, and Property
When you get married, your property and finances will (to a certain extent) merge with those of your spouse. You should become familiar with what is and is not considered marital or “community” property, and understand how to keep certain assets as separate property if you wish to do so. Other financial issues to keep in mind before you get married include pre-existing debts and tax considerations.
Related FindLaw Resources
Visit the Findlaw links below for specific information on the following marriage-related topics:
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.