How Do You File Taxes the Year You Get Married?

How you should file your taxes when you get married depends on your status at the end of the year.

This post is provided for general information only. Please confirm the details and circumstances of your unique situation with your tax accountant or other appropriate advisor before taking action.

What tax filing status should you use when you get married?

When you get married, you get to choose whether you want to file jointly or separately. Married Filing Separately is a special tax status. Filing separately isn’t the same as filing single.

When do you start filing as married?

You start filing as married in the year you get married. It doesn’t matter when you got married during the year. If you’re married on December 31st, you file as married for that year.

For example, you get married on any day between January 1 and December 31, 2022. When you file your 2022 tax return in April 2023, you file as married.

Do you have to tell the IRS you get married?

Yes and no. You don’t have to send in a special form to the IRS saying you got married.

When you file your tax return, you tell the IRS you got married by selecting one of the married filing statuses on the tax return.

If you get married early in the year before you file your tax return for last year, you still file last year as single. You don’t need to tell the IRS you got married until you file the tax return for the year you got married in.

If you move after you get married, you do need to send the IRS a change of address form ASAP. This applies to anyone who moves. The change of address form is in case the IRS sends you a notice or letter about one of your past tax returns.

Are you allowed to file as single the year you get married?

No, you can’t choose to file as single if you’re married as of December 31st. Some people mistakenly believe you have a choice the first year. Some people also think it goes by whether you were married for the majority of the year. The actual rule is whether you were married on the last day of the year.

Is it better to file jointly or separately?

Whether it’s better to file jointly or separately depends on your exact tax situation. It can even change from year to year.

You can pick whichever way makes you pay less in taxes. You can also change whether you file joint or separate tax returns every year.

The best thing to do is to run the numbers both ways each year. Many tax filing software applications automatically recommend the best way to file after you enter each spouse’s information.

About 90-95% of married couples file jointly. If you have W-2 jobs and common deductions and credits, joint filing will usually work out in your favor.

Common reasons to file separate tax returns include large differences in income, unusual business or investment income, student loans, or other debts. You may want to talk to a tax professional during your marriage preparation or shortly after you get married so you can plan ahead.

What do I do if I used the wrong filing status?

If you didn’t know better and filed single after you were married or filed married a year early, you’ll need to amend your tax return. You might owe a little more in taxes, or you might get a bigger refund. If you don’t amend your tax return, you might get charged penalties if the IRS notices you filed incorrectly.

If you filed separately or jointly and didn’t know it was better to file the other way, you have the option to amend your tax return. Or, you can decide it’s not worth it to amend. The reason you don’t have to amend is that it’s your option whether to file joint or separate.

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