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What filing status do I use after getting married?

If you are legally married anytime on or between Jan. 1, 2023 and Dec. 31, 2023, the IRS considers you to be married for the 2023 tax year. As a result, you may jointly or separately file state and federal income tax returns. When filing jointly, you and your spouse file a single income tax return which reports the income, credits and deductions for both of you. Filing separately means you and your spouse each file separate income tax returns. 

Generally, filing jointly is the best option for married couples. When filing jointly, you may be able to claim more of certain credits, such as the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, than people–single or married–filing separately.

Filing separately is typically not as favorable, because you will be unable to maximize certain deductions, such as student loan interest, and other tax credits, such as education credits or the earned income tax credit. Additionally, if one spouse chooses to itemize deductions, the other spouse must itemize as well. Although filing separately is generally not as beneficial, your tax professional can advise you on the best approach to minimize your tax burden or to maximize your refund.

Am I required to change my withholdings after getting married? 

No. Generally, newlyweds provide their employers with a new IRS Form W-4 within 10 days of marriage. You may want to check with your tax professional before adjusting your withholdings after you marry. They can recommend whether to maintain or change existing withholding amounts. After you complete your 2023 tax return, you may want to further adjust your withholdings based on the amount of tax refund or bill.

Your employer will use IRS Form W-4 to withhold tax from each paycheck. You can also file a Name Change Notification Letter to tell your employer if you changed your name after marriage. 

There are other tax benefits that may be available from your employer or your spouse’s employer once you are married. For example, if you or your spouse have a health savings account (HSA), you may qualify for an HSA with family coverage. A family HSA will typically allow higher contributions than an individual HSA, allowing you to net additional tax savings on your healthcare costs.

Will I be in a different tax bracket after getting married? 

This depends largely on the income that both you and your spouse earn. You may move to a different income tax bracket once married and filing a joint income tax return. 

You may ask your tax professional whether it is worthwhile to calculate your taxes both jointly and separately to determine the most favorable status. Filing separately, however, is rarely beneficial when you calculate the impact on both spouses. Typically, filing jointly lowers a couple’s combined tax liability. This typically happens when a high-income taxpayer marries a person with less or no income. The high-income spouse moves into a lower income tax bracket when filing jointly.

Will we get a tax bill after marriage?

It depends on your tax situation. If you and your new spouse routinely owed taxes before getting married, it is unlikely that getting married will eliminate your tax bill. The actions you take after your wedding, such as whether to adjust your tax withholdings, or estimated payments, can help decrease the taxes you owe when filing. If, before getting married, one spouse routinely received a refund while the other owed taxes, the amount of taxes owed or refunded may be offset when filing jointly.

Communications from the IRS may be jointly addressed to spouses, so it may only send one notice. Planning before and after your marriage can help you avoid, or prepare for, a large tax bill when you file your first joint income tax return. 

If you are unsure how to respond to an IRS notice, or have more questions about your taxes, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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