Tax Tips for Newlyweds
Getting married involves hundreds of details and decisions, from wedding planning to house hunting to joint checking accounts. Although taxes may not be high on your priority list, it’s important to consider how you will file your annual returns as newlyweds. With tax season less than a year away, it’s a great time to look at some of the changes you may need to make for the IRS.
Here are some basic tips:
• Know Your Deductions: If you get married before December 31, you may file as a couple. The IRS allows for deductions from your income before determining the amount of taxes you’ll be required to pay. For non-itemized returns, there is a standard deduction of $5,700 for an individual, or $11,400 for a couple. Start by estimating your deductions; if you’re sure they will be more than the standard deduction, it’s in your best interests to itemize your return. Many newlyweds end up owing money the first year. To avoid this, you and/or your spouse may need to adjust your withholdings to prevent any unpleasant surprises in April. Contact your employer’s HR department to make any necessary changes on your IRS W-4 forms.
• Consider Your IRA Account: With Roth IRAs, there is an income limit for contributors. For singles, the limit is under $105,000 and the amount you can contribute disappears as your income reaches $120,000. For married couples, those thresholds are $166,000 and $176,000— less than double the individual threshold. If you’ve contributed this year, make sure you are still under the income allowed for couples.
• Don’t Forget Your Student Loans: Once you’re married, there are a few changes here, too. Even if you use the short 1040 form and don’t itemize, you are eligible for a student loan deduction. A single individual making under $60,000 a year is currently eligible to receive up to a $2,500 deduction against the interest paid on school loans. The deduction disappears as your income approaches $75,000. For married couples, those thresholds are doubled: a $120,000 combined income for the full $2,500 and $150,000 combined income at the deduction cap. On the downside, couples are not eligible for both of the $2,500 deductibles they may have been receiving as two single individuals. The IRS only allows for one of these $2,500 deductions per tax return.
As you begin your life together as newlyweds, be sure to all of the necessary changes in your financial lives as well. We’ve only covered a few of the most common considerations; as always, it’s best to check with a qualified tax consultant to discuss your specific circumstances.