Tax planning is crucial in marriage preparations

Venar Ayar

Planning a wedding can be extremely stressful, and upcoming tax-related changes are probably the last thing on couples' minds. But there are many tax-related decisions couples must make, including change of name, change of tax withholding, change in circumstances, change of address, and change in filing status.

First, Social Security Administration records must be consistent with all the names and Social Security numbers on tax returns. Couples must decide if there is going to be a change of name and what kind, and have it legally changed and reflected in all important documents.

The withholding rate for married couples is lower than for single persons, and some married people find they do not have enough tax withheld at the married rate.

To determine whether or not you should consider a change, use the IRS Withholding Calculator tool at IRS.gov. To change tax withholding, give your employer a new Form W-4, found at IRS.gov.

If you receive advance payments of the premium tax credit, report changes in circumstances, such as new marital status, to the Health Insurance Marketplace. Other changes to report include income or family size. Reporting changes will allow the Marketplace to adjust advance credit payments to help avoid getting a smaller refund or owing money on your federal tax return.

Inform the IRS of a new residence by filing Form 8822, Change of Address, with the Internal Revenue Service; and remember to notify the U.S. Postal Service.

If you are married as of December 31, for tax purposes, that is your marital status for the entire year. You and your spouse may opt to file federal tax returns jointly or separately each year.

The smartest route is to consult with a tax professional (or use tax software at home) and figure the tax both ways and choose the status that results in the least tax owed. If earnings or circumstances vary year to year it is wise to recalculate the numbers and reassess options each year.

This on top of everything else may seem a bit daunting, but most items on this list don't need to be dealt with until after the nuptials. Some will only take a few minutes and may save you and your spouse money as you begin your new life together.

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Detroit native Venar Ayar is an IRS tax lawyer and founder of Ayar Law Group in Southfield. For more information, visit www.ayarlawgroup.com.

Published: Mon, Aug 10, 2015

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