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William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Posts Tagged ‘filing status’

Tax Facts for Choosing the Right Tax Filing Status

Posted by William Byrnes on December 14, 2015


Using the correct filing status is very important when filing a tax return. The right status affects how much is owed in taxes. It may even affect whether a tax return must be filed.

When choosing a filing status, keep in mind that marital status on Dec. 31 is the status for the entire year.  If more than one filing status applies, choose the one that will result in the lowest tax.

Note for same-sex married couples that new rules apply if legally married in a state or foreign country that recognizes same-sex marriage.  The same sex spouses generally must use a married filing status on the 2015 federal tax return and forward.  This is true even if the same sex spouses now live in a state or foreign country that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Here is a list of the five filing statuses to help you choose:

1. Single.  This status normally applies if you aren’t married or are divorced or legally separated under state law.

2. Married Filing Jointly.  A married couple can file one tax return together. If your spouse died in 2013, you usually can still file a joint return for that year.

3. Married Filing Separately.  A married couple can choose to file two separate tax returns instead of one joint return. This status may be to your benefit if it results in less tax. You can also use it if you want to be responsible only for your own tax.

4. Head of Household.  This status normally applies if you are not married. You also must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for yourself and a qualifying person. Some people choose this status by mistake. Be sure to check all the rules before you file.

5. Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child.  If your spouse died during 2014 or 2015 and you have a dependent child, this status may apply. Certain other conditions also apply.

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Getting Married – How Must I Include the IRS In My Wedding Plans?

Posted by William Byrnes on July 28, 2014


Why would a taxpayer want to include the IRS in his or her wedding plans?  Well, “its the law”.

No, the taxpayer does not need to send a wedding invitation to the closest IRS office.  But a 2014 marriage results in changes to the new married “couple’s” 2014 tax filing and possibly amount owed in tax for 2014.  Whether the couple will owe more in tax each year, including the year of marriage, over that of the combined amount of each individual’s tax due, depends on several factors, such as whether both spouses have income and how much that income is.  In general, a married couple, when both spouses are employed, pay more income tax than if they remained single and filed individual tax returns.  Also, the married couple may owe, and may owe more, of the additional 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax.

The IRS’ Summer Tax Tip 2014-2 reminds taxpayers that marriage has certain tax consequences from at least a filing persepctive.  These include:

Change in filing status.  If a couple is married before, or even on Dec. 31, 2014 at 11:59pm, then for the whole year of 2014 for tax purposes the IRS considers the couple married. Thus, neither spouse may file an individual’s tax return any longer.  Instead, the married couple must choose to file your federal income tax return either jointly or separately (as a married couple) for 2014.

Same-sex married couples:  If the couple is legally married in a state or country that recognizes same-sex marriage, then the couple must file as married for the federal tax return. This is true even if you and your spouse later live in a state or country that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Name change. The names and Social Security numbers listed on a tax return must match the Social Security Administration records. If a spouse changes the family name, then that name change must be reported to SSA.

Change tax withholding.  A change in marital status requires that a new Form W-4 for each spouse’s employer (Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate).  If it normal that when both spouse have income, the combined incomes moves each into a higher tax bracket for withholding at work.  Use the IRS Withholding Calculator tool to assist completing a new Form W-4.

Obama Care Premium Tax Credit changes in circumstances.  If a taxpayer took advantage of receiving the advance payment of the premium tax credit in 2014, then it is required to report changes in circumstances, such as changes in income, marriage, or family size, to the Health Insurance Marketplace.  Moreover, if one spouse will move out of the area covered of a current Marketplace plan, then that spouse must notify the Marketplace.

Address change for IRS letters.  A taxpayer has the responsibility to inform that IRS of an address changes.  To do that, file Form 8822, Change of Address, with the IRS.  Also, separately, the taxpayer should ask the U.S. Postal Service online at USPS.com to forward any mail sent to the former address.

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