June is prime wedding time. This year, there were a few more ceremonies than usual, thanks to the Supreme Court’s expansion of vows to same-sex couples.
But regardless of when you and your beloved say “I do,” there are some tax to-do’s you’ll need to take care of when you return from your honeymoon.
1. Notify officials of a name change
If one of you is changing your surname, either completely or by hyphenating, you need to let Uncle Sam know. Do so by downloading Form SS-5 from the Social Security Administration website, picking up the form from your local SSA office or by calling (800) 772-1213. This will ensure that your new name and Social Security number match when you file your next tax return.
2. Change your address
Whether you’re moving into your spouse’s place or finding a home new to you both, let the IRS know by filing Form 8822. Both spouses who previously filed as single taxpayers need to send in this form. Why? In this time of increased security to stem tax identity theft, the agency is looking at any return changes from year to year. This notification will help the IRS know it’s still the real you at a new location.
3. Adjust your withholding
If you and your spouse work, your new combined income could push you into a higher tax bracket when you file your first joint tax return. The IRS’ online withholding calculator can help you figure out the correct amount of payroll taxes that should come from each paycheck. Then let your employer know by filling out a new Form W-4.
4. Tell your employer about your new benefits status
In addition to letting your employer know about withholding adjustments, be sure to change the beneficiary of your tax-favored workplace 401(k) plan. Your marriage also could affect your contributions to your pretax flexible spending account and your employer-provided health insurance.
5. Inform your health care marketplace
If you get your medical coverage from an Affordable Care Act, or ACA, marketplace, report your changed circumstances to your exchange. Your new wedded status and any other changes, such as your new spouse’s children joining your family, will affect advance payments of the ACA premium tax credit. This credit, which is the subsidy that the Supreme Court ruled is OK for policies bought at both the federal and state exchanges, is used by millions to help them pay for Obamacare coverage. Making the marketplace change in a timely manner will help you avoid getting a smaller refund or an unexpected tax bill when you file your taxes next year.
6. Note your new filing status
Married couples generally enjoy better tax results when they file a joint return. But every couple’s situation is different, so sometimes it’s better to file as married filing separately. Take some time to look at which filing status will work better for you and set up tax strategies now to accommodate that choice, well before your Form 1040 is due next April 15. Don’t worry. Your married filing jointly or separately choice isn’t like your wedding vows. It’s not permanent. You can change it each year as your tax situation dictates.
And if you’re still in the wedding planning phase, note that your marital tax-filing status applies for the full year, whether you got married on Jan. 1 or June 15 or Dec. 31. If you’re married at any time during the tax year, be it 365 days or just one, the IRS considers you married for the entire year for tax purposes.
I know taxes aren’t usually considered romantic, but thinking about them early in your marriage, or before you say “I do,” can help you keep your new combined taxes lower. And that’s a great wedding gift.