Got Married in 2018? Here’s What You Need to Know Before You File Your Taxes
In hindsight, getting married in 2018 was the easy part. Now, you’ve got a mountain of tax paperwork to fill out—and figure out—and you’re not quite sure where to start. We caught up with Lisa Greene-Lewis, TurboTax expert and CPA, about everything you need to know now that you’re a newlywed.
You Need to Update Your Tax Filing Status
Now that you said “I do,” you and your spouse have to decide: Will you file your taxes jointly or separately? The IRS gives joint filers one of the largest standard deductions each year, allowing them to deduct a significant amount of their income immediately. (For 2018, the standard deduction doubled from $12,700 to $24,000.) In addition, couples who file together can usually qualify for additional tax credits—everything from the Earned Income to the Lifetime Learning Tax Credits. (If you file separately, the standard deduction is significantly less at $12,000 and you’re also disqualified from several tax breaks.) There are exceptions though: If you or your spouse has a high amount of out-of-pocket medical deductions, for example, you might be able claim more of those by filing separately. In order to make the best choice, it’s best to run the numbers both ways to see which nets you the highest refund.
And Hopefully You Already Updated Your W-4s
When you get married, your tax rate changes—especially if both you and your partner work. As we mentioned above, married couples filing jointly qualify for a lower tax rate and other deductions. But you have to adjust the allowances on your W-4 to make sure you’re withholding the right amount. (Withhold too little and you could end up paying a penalty; withhold too much and you might be giving the IRS an interest-free loan when you could be investing that money elsewhere.) This handy calculator can help you figure out the amount you should be withholding right.
You Might Be Able to Write Off Your Venue Costs
That modern art gallery you had to have your reception at? There’s a good chance the fee you paid (or at least part of it) is tax-deductible. (It’s a non-profit, right?) Same goes for if you hosted your ceremony or reception at an outdoor park, historical site or museum. Check with your venue or read the fine print on the website to see if you qualify—then dig into your wedding archive to find copies of those receipts.
Ditto Your Flowers and Dress
You shelled out a pretty penny for those peony centerpieces, not to mention your couture dress. But if you donated the flowers to a women’s shelter and your dress to an organization that re-distributes bridal fashion to those in need, you could write those off as donations on your tax return.