Checklist of tax and financial items for newly married couples:
Withholding – Newly-wed couples should consider changing their withholding. They should give their employers a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance. If both spouses work, they may move into a higher tax bracket or be affected by the Additional Medicare Tax.
They can use the IRS withholding estimator on www.irs.gov to help complete a new Form W-4.
Name and Address Change – When a name changes through marriage, it is important to report that change to the Social Security Administration. The name on your tax return must match what is on file at the SSA. To update information, taxpayers should file Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, available at www.ssa.gov . If marriage includes a change of address, one should inform the IRS by sending Form 8822, Change of Address, available at www.irs.gov.
Filing Status – Married couples can file their federal income taxes jointly or separately each year. Usually, married filing joint is more beneficial, however couples should calculate the tax both ways to see which works best. If a couple is married as of Dec. 31, they are married for the whole year for tax purposes.
Prenuptial Planning – Part of the 2017 massive tax bill was the elimination of taxable and deductible alimony—which was in the tax code since the 1940s! As a result, prenuptials were turned on their heads unless they permitted a change for tax law changes. It is wise today for the pre-nuptial agreement to allow for changes in the tax treatment of alimony. Attorneys and their clients may consider wording which triggers changes automatically in the event of substantive changes in the tax treatment of alimony. Finally, not all states with an income tax follow the federal law. State tax law needs to be considered also. Litigation Support Partner, Jeff Urbach, works closely with divorce attorneys who can assist you with pre-nuptial agreements.
Marriage after Divorce? If a couple divorces and doesn’t change their wills, NJ statute dictates the outcome. Divorce revokes any dispositions of property made between former spouses prior to divorce. Will provisions leaving property to former spouse have no effect and property passes to next beneficiary named in will. After divorce, and especially before remarriage, one should consult with an elder law attorney. We work closely with many competent estate attorneys whom we can recommend.
Retirement Accounts – If a former spouse was named as the beneficiary of a qualified retirement plan, this will remain intact despite a divorce. After divorce, and especially before remarriage, one should review the beneficiary designations of all retirement accounts.
Everyone’s tax and financial situation is different. Please contact a tax professional at Urbach & Avraham, CPAs about your tax options. Look before you leap!