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If you got married this year, the IRS won’t be sending you a card, but you might be able to get a break on your taxes. Here’s what you need to do to properly file your taxes when you’re newly married.
You’re married for tax purposes if you’re married on the last day of the tax year. For virtually all filers, your marital status on Dec. 31 determines your tax status.
If you have a December wedding, your filing status for the entire year is married. On the other hand, if you have an early 2017 wedding before you file your 2016 taxes, you still file as single for 2016.
If you’re married, you must file as either married filing separately or married filing jointly (limited exceptions apply if your spouse is a citizen of another country).
Filing jointly gives you a larger standard deduction, two exemptions, and larger tax brackets. Filing separately is similar to filing as single, but you lose the ability to claim certain deductions and credits.
Things that influence whether it’s better to file jointly or separately include
The smartest thing to do is to calculate your taxes both ways every year because the most advantageous status often changes from year to year based on your current situation. You can switch every year if it saves you money.
While filing your taxes properly is important, it’s even more important to plan ahead to minimize your tax bill. These are the four biggest areas you need to look into:
You should discuss these and other financial planning topics before you’re married and at least once a year to make sure you’re not paying extra to the IRS. You can use an online tax calculator or talk to your tax professional.