Published: Sunday, Dec. 6th, 2020
In the eyes of the IRS, if you’re married by the end of the year - even on December 31st - you’re considered married for the full year.
For this reason, we see lots of surprise wedding ceremonies in December. Couples engaged during the romantic holiday season (aka engagement season) rush to marry before the end of the year after deciding that -- for personal reasons -- it'd be in their best interest to file jointly on their upcoming taxes. Many couples expect that filing jointly will lead to a tax break or ‘marriage bonus’ that will save them money. And for the majority of couples, this is usually true.
(Planning a last minute ceremony? Ask a friend or family member to perform your wedding! They can get ordained online with us for free and then we’ll teach them the rest.)
Tax breaks and filing statuses are not always that simple, however. (Shocking, we’re sure.) Filing jointly can occasionally result in a penalty, and even a ‘married filing separately’ status can come with a few potentially unexpected outcomes, such as losing the Earned Income Tax Credit, not being able to deduct student loan interest payments, or not being able to claim education credits.
So while you’re planning your last-minute December wedding and choosing your filing status as newlyweds, here are some prompts to help you ask the right questions when it’s tax time.
This is important to consider because partners with very different incomes can sometimes see more of a benefit from filing jointly than other couples, while those with very similar, or generally higher, incomes might be more likely to see a decrease in their refund.
If your medical expenses exceed a certain percentage of your income, they might qualify for a deduction. If a married partner files separately, this might save them some money versus filing jointly.
If you don’t want your refund to go towards paying a spouse’s tax bill, filing separately might be a good idea.
Not sure how to file your federal taxes as newlyweds? Do a little research to learn about filing statuses.
One tip we think is especially valuable to remember:
If you change your name when you get married, you should let the Social Security Administration know right away by filling out the correct forms. If the name on your tax return doesn’t match the name they have on file, you’ll probably have trouble filing your return.
Whatever you do, do your research. Don’t take your tax advice from us -- we’re pros when it comes to officiating weddings, but not taxes. If you need help, you'll need to ask a friendly tax professional (or better known as a Certified Public Accountant).
We hope these questions will help you get started as you plan your romantically spontaneous December wedding ceremony. Oh, and -- congratulations!
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