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A Tax Checklist for Newly Married Couples

Anchin Private Client CenterJanuary 21, 2021Elizabeth Morin, Director in Anchin Private Client

A Tax Checklist for Newly Married Couples

Marriage changes a lot of things, taxes and other matters are on that list. Newlyweds should know how saying “I do” can affect their tax situation and other matters.

Here’s a checklist of items for newly married couples to review:

  1. Name and address changes

Name. When a name changes through marriage, it is important to report that change to the Social Security Administration. The name on a person’s tax return must match what is on file at the SSA. If it doesn’t, it could delay any tax refund. To update information, taxpayers should file Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. It is available on SSA.gov, by calling 800-772-1213 or at a local SSA office.

Address. If marriage means a change of address, the IRS and U.S. Postal Service need to know. To do that, people should send the IRS Form 8822, Change of Address. Taxpayers should also notify the postal service to forward their mail by going online at USPS.com or their local post office.

  1. Withholding

After getting married, couples should consider changing their withholding. Newly married couples must give their employers a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance within 10 days. If both spouses work, they may move into a higher tax bracket or be affected by the Additional Medicare Tax. They can use the IRS Withholding Estimator on IRS.gov to help complete a new Form W-4. They should also update their withholding in the state they are living in too. For example if they live in NYS, they should update by using Form IT-2104, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. They can use the NYS Withholding worksheets on tax.ny.gov to help complete a new Form IT-2104.

  1. Filing status

Married couples can choose to file their federal and state income taxes jointly or separately each year. While filing jointly is usually more beneficial, it’s best to figure the tax both ways to find out which works best. Remember, if a couple is married as of Dec. 31, the law says they’re married for the whole year for tax purposes.

  1. Driver’s license

Once you have your new Social Security card, take it and your marriage certificate to the DMV. If your license doesn’t have your current address on it, be sure to take proof of residency to update your address, too. You can call your state’s DMV office or go online to find out what constitutes proof of residency.

  1. Credit union/ bank account information

If you’ve changed your name, you’ll need to notify your financial institutions. You may also want to open a joint account or add your spouse to one of your existing accounts after you’re married. You likely will have to provide your spouse’s name, date of birth and email address, though some financial institutions may require you to provide more information.

  1. Your life insurance and retirement accounts

If you haven’t done so before tying the knot, you will probably want to update your life insurance and retirement savings accounts to make your spouse the beneficiary. In the case of life insurance, you should reevaluate whether you have enough coverage, especially if you purchased a home.

  1. Your insurance policies

Take stock of your health insurance options. Are you better off signing up with your spouse’s health insurance, or vice-versa? Should you keep your separate plans? Figure out what will be the best fit for your health and what makes the most sense financially. Most employers set a time limit on how long you have to make a change after a “qualifying event” such as marriage, so have this conversation with your spouse right after or before you get married. And don’t forget to notify your provider if you changed your name so you can get new insurance cards.

Be sure to reach out to your homeowners or renters insurance company, too. If you haven’t lived together before, you now have twice the amount of stuff to insure – not to mention some extra jewelry in the form of wedding bands. Take an inventory of what you have and call your insurance company to discuss your coverage.

Also, remember to look into your auto insurance coverage. If you both have cars, shop around to see if you’re better off insuring both cars on one policy rather than insuring them separately. In many cases, you will get a better deal bundling your home/renters insurance and auto insurance together.

  1. Your creditors

If you changed your name, be sure to notify your creditors, such as your auto loan lender, mortgage lender and credit card companies. This will ensure your new name shows up on your credit report. Remember that getting married doesn’t mean your spouse’s credit activity will show up on your report – this will only happen when you open a joint credit account.

If you can’t remember which creditors to call, pull a free copy of your credit report and review the creditors included. You may want to pull all three credit reports: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion as not all creditors report to all three bureaus.

As a reminder, you’re entitled to one free credit report each year from each bureau through annualcreditreport.com.

  1. Doctors’ offices

If you’ve changed your name and/or need to add your spouse as your emergency contact.

  1. Attorney

If you need to update legal documents, such as a trust or will.

  1. Scams

All taxpayers should be aware of and avoid tax scams. The IRS and states will never initiate contact using email, phone calls, social media or text messages; first contact generally comes in the mail. Those wondering if they owe money to the IRS can view their tax account information on IRS.gov to find out. You can also do the same by going to the state you live in and looking up account summary information. For example, if you live in NYS, you would go to tax.ny.gov, individual and account summary.

We are here to help with any questions you may have. Please contact Elizabeth Morin, a Director in Anchin Private Client or your Anchin Relationship Partner.

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