Love and Taxes

About 10 percent of people in the United States that are currently married said it all began with a Valentine’s day proposal. The vast majority of taxes collected by the IRS each year comes from married couples. Love and taxes go hand in hand, so if you’re a newly married couple or are planning on getting married soon, it’s a good idea to dive deeper in the tax rules and considerations that concern married couples. Gurian CPA has given you a federal tax return overview for all couples that are married or will be married soon.

After a couple has tied the knot it is important to keep the date that you and your spouse got married before choosing your filing status for the current tax season. As an example, if you were married on December 31, 2018, you would be eligible to filing as a married couple, because in the IRS’ eye, you have been married for the whole 2018 tax year. However, if you and your spouse were married on January 1, 2019, then you and your spouse would still have to choose the single status when filing your 2018 taxes. If you are eligible to choose of the married filing statuses, you will have two statuses to choose from: married filing jointly and married filing separately. When you decide to choose the married filing jointly filing status, you and your spouse will receive one single tax return with incomes and deductions combined. If you decide it is right for you and your spouse to choose the married filing separately status, both you and your spouse will file your own tax returns and will keep your individual incomes and deductions separate.

Here are the standard deductions and tax brackets for each married filing status:

Filing Status Standard Deduction
Married filing jointly $24,000
Married filing separately $12,000
Tax Rate Married filing jointly Married filing separately
10% Not over $19,050 Not over $9,525
12% $19,051 – $77,400 $9,526 – $38,700
22% $77,401 – $165,000 $38,701 – $82,500
24% $165,001 to $315,000 $82,501 to $157,500
32% $315,001 – $400,000 $157,501 – $200,000
35% $400,001 to $600,000 $200,001 – $300,000
37% Over $600,000 Over $300,000

Now when choosing which status is right for both you and your spouse, this depends entirely on the couple involved. It involves your incomes, possible deductions and credits, etc. The majority of couples find it beneficial to file jointly, but there are of course circumstances that when choosing to file separately will leave you will a smaller total tax bill. If you’re unsure which filing status is best for you in your spouse it is recommended that you contact your local CPA for guidance. When you choose to the status married filing jointly you and your spouse will qualify for a larger standard deduction and will also receive a higher income threshold for various tax breaks. Also, if you choose the married filing jointly status, you will be able to claim two exemptions, rather than being able to claim one when filing singly. Keep in mind that if you choose to file jointly you are taking joint responsibility in the accuracy of the information on the return, and therefor the tax obligation.

When choosing the married filing separately status, this means that children can only be claimed as a dependent by one spouse. Both you and your spouse will have to choose between itemizing deductions or taking the standard deduction. One spouse can’t itemize deductions while the other spouse takes the standard deduction. Filing separately can also get complicated if you love in one of the states with community property laws: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. It’s important to follow your states laws when calculating community income and separate income for your federal tax return. Community property rules have all income earned during a marriage to be equally owned, so if you file your taxes separately, you’ll each claim half of your total income, even if one of you earns twice as much as the other. If you live in one of these regions, it’s advised that you contact your local CPA for guidance or read up on your options to determine what’s your most tax minimizing route.

Love and taxes can become complicated and our team here at Gurian CPA is here to assist you. It is always a good idea to run your tax situation both ways to see which filing status will benefit you and your spouse the most. Let Gurian CPA help you and your spouse determine which filing status is best for you because we have a love for taxes!

By: Paige Knight

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