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First Time Filing Jointly? Here's What You Need to Know

 

Content provided for general information. Talk to your advisor to learn about recent updates or other rules that may apply to your situation.

Congratulations on getting married and purchasing a house! These are exciting milestones in your life and now you have another important decision to make - how to file your taxes. As a first time filer, it can be overwhelming to navigate the complexities of filing taxes jointly or separately. However, with some guidance and understanding of the pros and cons, you can make an informed decision that is best for your situation.

What is Filing Jointly and Separately?

When you get married, you have the option to file your taxes jointly with your spouse or separately. Filing jointly means combining your income, deductions, and credits on one tax return. Filing separately means each spouse files their own tax return with their individual income, deductions, and credits.

It's important to note that the tax brackets for married couples filing jointly are different from those filing separately. Generally, filing jointly results in a lower tax rate and a higher standard deduction. However, there are other factors to consider before making your decision.

Assess Your Finances

The first step is to assess your finances and understand your tax situation. In your scenario, you and your spouse have a significant difference in income and student loan debt. This can impact your decision on how to file.

If you both have a similar income and debt, it may make sense to file jointly. This can result in a lower tax rate and a larger standard deduction, which can save you money. However, in your case, since your spouse has a significantly higher income and debt, filing jointly may result in your student loan payments increasing and your spouse's decreasing. This is because your combined income will push you into a higher tax bracket, and your spouse's deductions may be limited due to their higher income.

On the other hand, filing separately would keep your income and deductions separate, potentially resulting in a lower tax rate for you and a smaller standard deduction for your spouse. This could also impact your eligibility for certain tax credits and deductions, such as the student loan interest deduction.

Consider Other Factors

Aside from your finances, there are other factors to consider when deciding how to file. If you have significant medical expenses or charitable contributions, filing jointly may allow you to take advantage of these deductions. Additionally, if you have children, filing jointly may make you eligible for certain tax benefits, such as the Child Tax Credit.

Another important factor to consider is the state you live in. Some states have different tax laws for married couples filing jointly or separately. It's best to consult with a tax advisor or do some research to understand how your state's tax laws may impact your decision.

Talk to a Tax Advisor

Ultimately, the decision of how to file your taxes should be based on your individual situation. It's always a good idea to talk to a tax advisor who can assess your finances and provide personalized advice. They can also help you understand the potential tax implications of filing jointly or separately.

It's important to note that once you choose to file jointly or separately, you cannot change your decision for that tax year. So, it's crucial to carefully consider all the factors and make an informed decision.

In Conclusion

Filing taxes jointly or separately can have a significant impact on your tax liability. As a first time filer, it's essential to assess your finances, understand the tax implications, and consider other factors before making your decision. Consulting with a tax advisor can also provide valuable insights and help you make the best decision for your situation.