While most folks don’t associate the words “caring” and “helpful” with the IRS, when it comes to giving newlyweds free tax advice those words surprisingly come to mind. Many of us often forget the IRS, while loathed by millions of taxpayers (particularly those who are subject to IRS garnishments, IRS levies and/or IRS liens), is still a public agency tasked with providing a service to all Americans. While the service it provides includes collecting our money and chasing us relentlessly if we owe back taxes and/or have unfiled returns, the Agency also often tries to help taxpayers avoid getting into trouble in the first place.
Recently, an IRS spokesperson, Jennifer Jenkins, illustrated the point with some sound tax advice for those thinking about marriage and those who recently took the plunge into marital bliss. Ms. Jenkins commented, “now that the spring wedding season is in full swing, the soon-to-be married and the just married should take a few moments to review their tax status.” She went on to explain “tax related changes that newlyweds should consider include notifying the IRS of name and address changes. It’s also a good time to review and possibly modify withholding via form W-4 and consider itemizing deductions.”
Ms. Jenkins suggests, and IRS tax lawyers agree, married couples filing for the first time should consider examining their tax situation to find the correct filing form(s) and the correct filing status. While a single person may have filed their tax return using a 1040EZ or a 1040A, a married couple may collectively have sufficient deductions to itemize; and if so, a 1040 form would most likely be appropriate.
Another helpful suggestion is that married couples filing for the first time may wish to calculate their taxes and deductions two separate ways and select the method which yields the most savings. Specifically, Ms. Jenkins suggests newlyweds should look at how much they’ll owe if they file their tax returns as married filing jointly versus married filing separately. She even went so far as to say “figuring the tax both ways can determine which status will result in the lowest tax…usually it’s filing jointly.”
While the notion of the federal government going out of its’ way to help newlyweds pay less taxes may seem surreal, tax lawyers are quick to point out the IRS genuinely wants people to only pay their fair share of taxes.
If you are contemplating marriage, or have been recently married, you may want to consider discussing your tax-related questions with a competent tax attorney or other tax professional. Similarly, if you are one of those taxpayers loathing the IRS because you are in collections and suffering through IRS garnishments, IRS levies and/or IRS liens, you too might benefit from a discussion with a tax lawyer.
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