Notes for New Nuptials

by Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP

When you make your wedding checklist, perhaps at the bottom you should consider how your marriage will affect your income taxes.  Here’s a few pointers offered by the Internal Revenue Service:

  • If one or both newly joined spouses is changing surnames, you should report the change on Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card.  The form is available on the Social Security Administration website ( or you can call the SSA at 800-772-1213 or visit your local SSA office.  If you don’t take care of this soon after your marriage, you may run into problems when your new name doesn’t match your Social Security number on your income tax returns.
  • If you or your new spouse is changing addresses, you should file IRS Form 8822, Change of Address, with the IRS office where you normally file your return.  You should also go to your local U.S. Post Office to get their forms for change of address notification, or go the to ask that your mail be forwarded.  Failure to do so might cause tax notices and refunds to be mailed to your old address.
  • Your change of address should also be given to your employer so that they will send your year-end Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, to your correct address after each year-end.
  • If you and your new spouse are gainfully employed, you should revisit your withholding exemptions claimed at your respective employers.  Combining your income may result in higher tax brackets, and you should go to the IRS website to use their Withholding Calculator ( to adjust the exemptions claimed.  You employer will require you to complete a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, to make any adjustments.
  • While you were single, you may not have needed to itemize your deductions, but combining your deductions with your new spouse may change that status and save you money.  Of course, once you itemize deductions, you may no longer file Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ, but you may save money by itemizing, so don’t forget this when you visit your tax advisor for the first time after you tie the knot.
  • If you are married on or before Dec. 31, the IRS considers you married for the entire year for income tax purposes.  That means that you and your spouse may file a joint income tax return for the year of your marriage, or file Married Filing Separately.  Have your tax advisor calculate your total tax liability under both filing options to determine what’s best for you. Remember that in Community Property states such as California, spouses filing Married Filing Separately must report the one-half of the earned income for the year of both spouses on each of the two returns.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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