June had the reputation as being THE wedding month of the year and flowers were everywhere. Now it seems like wedding season goes from early spring to late summer. Whether they’re traditional with a bunch of flowers or have a Harry Potter theme, weddings strive to be a happy occasion for all parties involved and guests invited. They can also, however, be quite stressful! Between trying to plan a wedding, staying within budget, finding the perfect dress and finalizing plans, it can be an overwhelming task! Not to mention that two people’s lives are going to change, so it’s understandable that a few things might fall to the wayside.
While trying to choose the right flowers for the bouquet, which flavor of cake to have, and planning a seating chart, no one really has time to think about everything they need to do after festivities and honeymoon. Besides, who wants to think about name changing forms when a sandy beach with fruity drinks is calling their name? There’s other important things to do, too, like writing thank you notes and trying out all the new gadgets family and friends gave you.
When the fun dies down, though, we’re here to give all newlyweds a friendly reminder of tedious tasks to consider and or do once they’re married. So first things first! Some people really like the whole name change idea that is associated with getting married; you know, at some point we all tried out how our name would flow with some hottie we admired by scribbling it all over our school notebooks.
A new name can be exciting, but keep in mind that for tax purposes, your name, social security number and tax return all have to match. Therefore, take a few minutes to report your new name to the Social Security Administration and file a Form SS-5. Make sure you have a copy of your driver’s license or passport and your marriage certificate because you’ll need them. Lastly, the SSA will take about two weeks to process the name change so try not to make your name change too close to the tax season because data sharing between the IRS and the SSA can be problematic towards the end of the year.
Another tip to keep in mind is to make sure your address is up-to-date if you move after the nuptials. There are some types of federal and certified mail that the postal service won’t forward to a new address. Seems like a no brainer, but for newlyweds coming fresh off a honeymoon and go right into a big move, it can be easy to forget to notify the postal service. Further, report to your employer any name or address changes to make sure you receive your Form W-2 after the end of the year.
Now here’s the nitty gritty; filing a tax return after you’re married. The combined income for you and your spouse could potentially put you in a new tax bracket. If that’s the case, use the IRS Withholding Calculator to see if you need to file a new Form W-4 for your employer. Then, make sure you choose the right tax form to fill out. Being married, you’ll have enough deductions to itemize your return rather than take standard deductions. Finally, decide which filing status will be most beneficial for you.
For most married couples, there’s a lower tax liability for filing jointly, but the married filing separate option could be more beneficial. For instance, if your spouse has past debt with the IRS or another agency, filing separate will prevent any refund the spouse may get from being used to offset the debt. These little details are easy for anyone to overlook, but as they say, the devil is in the details. Making sure things like names changes and filing correctly are taken care of well before tax time will save you from of heck of a headache!
With all of that out of the way, enjoy the honeymoon period and enjoy being blissfully married!
Additional resources for business accounting tips are available here.