Tax Tips for Newlyweds

As an old saying says, “Marriage is joy doubled and sorrow halved.” If you put filing your taxes under the “sorrow” column, that’s definitely true—you now have someone to share the stress of filing with. But filing taxes as a newly married couple can bring its own challenges. These tax tips for newlyweds can make tax time easier for you both.

Get Your Name Right

If one or both of you are changing your legal name after the wedding, make sure that your new name is the same on ALL your legal records, including your Social Security card. Your Social Security Number (SSN), is, first and foremost, your tax identification number with the federal government. Your correct name should be on file with the Social Security Administration and with every entity that issues you a tax document like a W-2 or a 1099.

Inconsistency is a red flag for the IRS. The last thing you want to do is file a tax return under the name “Chris Smith-Jones” when your W-2 calls you “Chris Smith” and your 1099-INT for interest income calls you “Chris Jones.” That’s why one of the top IRS tax tips for newlyweds is to ensure that your name is documented correctly.

Crossing a New Threshold? Change Your Old Address

Although many tax reporting forms are available online, many are still delivered through the good old U.S. mail. That means that if you get married, move, and fail to change your address, you might not get all of the information you need to accurately prepare your taxes. As you are making sure all of your income sources and financial institutions have your new name, make sure they have your new address on file, too. And, of course, give the post office your forwarding address so all of your important mail makes its way to your new home.

Announce Your Marriage (to Your Employers)

Not on engraved stationery—on an updated W-4 (Employee’s Withholding Certificate). Now that you’re married, and likely combining finances, you and your new spouse need to update your respective W-4 forms. You will want to make sure that together, you are having the right amount withheld for taxes from your paycheck. Too little, and you could have a hefty tax bill come April.

Too much, and you’ll get a big refund—which means that you let the government hang on to your money for several months, when it could have been working for you. Not sure how to adjust your withholding? The IRS withholding calculator can help—or ask your tax professional.

Consider Your (Tax) Bracket

If you and your spouse plan to file taxes as a married couple filing jointly, you should realize that your tax bracket might be changing—even if one of you isn’t currently earning any income. For instance, for tax year 2024, if one spouse is working and earning $90,000, that would put a married couple filing jointly in the 12% tax bracket. However, that amount of income would put a single filer in the 22% tax bracket.

Regardless of whether you got married on the first day of a tax year or the last, if you were married to your spouse on December 31, the IRS considers you a married couple for the whole year. It might be worth speaking with an experienced tax professional to see whether it’s to your advantage to file jointly or separately, since you now have both options.

Take Advantage of Tax Savings Opportunities

Another old saying is, “Two can live as cheaply as one.” While that may not be strictly true, as a newly married couple you may have more income than a single person, and shared living expenses. That means that you may not be devoting as much of your income to simply meeting expenses. You could just spend more of your disposable income—or you could use it to reduce your taxes and save for your future.

For instance, you may be able to begin contributing more to your retirement accounts. If you are making contributions to a 401(k) or IRA with pre-tax dollars, you’re not only building your nest egg for the future, you are lowering your taxable income today.

Think About Itemizing

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 nearly doubled the standard deduction for income tax filing, which means that it suddenly became less advantageous for many people to itemize deductions on their income taxes. Why bother keeping track of all those deductions, when you could get the same benefit, or a greater one, just by claiming the standard deduction?

As a newly-married tax filer, you may want to rethink that position. Many provisions of the TCJA, including the increased standard deduction, are scheduled to “sunset” after December 31, 2025. Furthermore, you and your new spouse may be able to claim deductions now that you would not have as a single filer—such as the many tax deductions available to homeowners, if you’re buying a home together.

The Bottom Line

Getting married changes a lot of things, and your taxes are only one of them. To get more tax tips for newlyweds, or to get help with preparing and filing your income tax as a married couple, schedule an appointment today with the accounting and tax preparation professionals at Gudorf Tax Group.