Our US Tax author Scott Estill celebrates Americans finding their life partner with ten ways to maximize your financial union at tax time.
When to do your I do’s
For tax purposes, your marital status is determined as of December 31, 2014. As such, it is possible to time the marriage to produce the lowest possible tax results (i.e. should we marry in 2014 or 2015).
What’s in a name change?
If either spouse changed his/her name as a result of the marriage, make sure the name(s) has been changed at the Social Security Administration (Form SS-5) and the name matches the name used on your first tax return as a married person.
To do or not too do (your taxes together)?
Married couples are permitted to file their taxes one of two ways: married filing jointly or married filing separately. While a joint filing status is usually best of most couples in that it will result in the least amount of taxes being paid, it doesn’t hurt to compute the taxes with each filing status to see which produces the lowest tax bill in your particular situation. You are permitted to change your filing status in the future so any decisions for 2014 are not binding on future tax years.
What’s mine is yours, unless…
If either spouse has a current tax issue pending from prior to the marriage, the couple should consider filing separately, especially if tax refunds are at issue and one spouse has no legal liability for the debts of the other spouse.
Same sex, different taxes?
For same-sex couples, the IRS will view you as legally married for federal tax purposes. Thus, a joint or separate filing status will need to be determined for federal tax purposes. However, there is still uncertainty for same-sex married couples who live in a state that does not recognize their marriage. If this is the case, it may be necessary to file as married at the federal level and single at the state level.
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Scott Estill is the author of TAX THIS! An insider’s Guide To Standing Up to the IRS. He is a tax attorney and former IRS Senior Trial Attorney who operates out of Denver. Follow Scott on twitter at @TaxThis