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Summer Loving? Think About Taxes Before You Tie the Knot

Posted on Mon, Jul 08, 2019

For many couples, summer is the quintessential time to tie the knot. The weather is warm, the flowers are blooming and nature offers plentiful backdrops for photos. But there's more than the ceremony to consider when a couple merges their lives, including taxes and other financial issues.

Though finances aren't necessarily a romantic topic, some issues are important to address before you say, "I do!" Let's start with how marriage changes your tax situation.

Beyond Taxes

Taxes are an important consideration when you get married. But there are other financial issues and administrative tasks to consider. Here's a checklist:

Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA). If getting married involves a name change for either spouse, the SSA needs to know. Updating your name with the SSA helps ensure that credit ratings and Social Security benefits follow you into your marriage.

Notify your employer (and others). If you change your name, alert your company's human resources office. They'll put your new name on your payroll check and benefits files. You may also need to supply a new bank account number if your check is direct deposited.

Other records to update include:

  • Driver's license at your state department of motor vehicles (DMV),
  • Vehicle registration at the DMV,
  • Passport at www.travel.state.gov,
  • State and local tax records,
  • Voter registration at your state or local election office (or DMV),
  • Property titles for homes and vehicles with your lender or, if paid off, at your county clerk or DMV,
  • Utility bills with the phone, cell phone, electricity, gas, water and garbage companies, and
  • Medical, dental and pharmacy records.

Coordinate workplace benefits. Consider updating your beneficiaries for employer-provided life insurance, disability insurance and retirement plan accounts. Are both spouses covered by health insurance? Getting married counts as a qualifying event that allows you to make changes to your employee benefits even if it's not open-enrollment season. If you both work and one spouse has better health insurance options than the other, you may want to add the spouse as a dependent on the more generous plan. Likewise, if one spouse doesn't have coverage, consider adding him or her to the other spouse's plan.

Review bank and financial accounts. Discuss whether you'll continue to have separate checking accounts and credit cards — or whether joint accounts make more sense. If you open a new account, you'll need to update any automatic bill payments and direct deposits for the account number.  

Consider changing titles on key assets. If one spouse already owns a home, for example, you might want to refinance it or change the title to include both spouses. But before you do, talk it over with your professional advisors. There are legal implications for who owns assets, including private business interests, real estate and vehicles.

Update insurance accounts. You may decide to change your life insurance beneficiaries after marriage. Also ask your insurance agent about possible discounts for married couples who combine auto and renter's insurance policies, as well as scheduled property riders that can be added to your renter's or homeowner's insurance policy for engagement and wedding rings.

Review deeds, wills and power of attorney documents. An attorney or estate advisor can discuss the full array of estate planning tools, such as various trusts, that might be relevant now that you're married.

This list of to-dos may look lengthy, but don't worry: These tasks are much less work than planning a wedding! Plus, the time spent taking care of these issues now may eliminate mix-ups and extra work later on.

To File Jointly or Separately?

Your marital status at year end determines your tax filing options for the entire year. If you're married on or by December 31, you'll have two federal income tax filing choices for 2019:

  • File jointly with your spouse, or
  • Opt for "married filing separately" status and then file separate returns based on your income and your deductions and credits.

There are two reasons most married couples file jointly.

1. It's simpler. You only have to file one Form 1040, and you don't have to worry about figuring out which income, deduction and tax credit items belong to each spouse.

2. It's often cheaper. The married filing separately status makes you ineligible for some potentially valuable federal income tax breaks, such as certain higher education credits and, generally, the child and dependent care credit. Therefore, filing two separate returns may result in a bigger combined tax bill than filing one joint return.

Risks of Filing Jointly

Filing jointly isn't a sure win for one big reason: For years that you file joint federal income tax returns, you're generally "jointly and severally liable" for any underpayments, interest and penalties caused by your spouse's deliberate misdeeds or unintentional errors and omissions.

Joint-and-several liability means the IRS can come after you for the entire bill if collecting from your spouse proves to be difficult or impossible. The IRS can even come after you after you've divorced.

However, you may be able to claim an exemption from the joint-and-several-liability rule under the so-called "innocent spouse" provisions. To successfully qualify as an innocent spouse, you must prove that you:

    • Didn't know about your spouse's tax failings,
    • Had no reason to know, and
    • Didn't personally benefit.
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Tags: Filing Taxes, Getting Married, Income Tax

Important Tax Figures for 2019

Posted on Mon, Jan 07, 2019

The following table provides some important federal tax information for 2019, as compared with 2018. Many of the dollar amounts are unchanged and some changed only slightly due to inflation.

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Tags: Tax Credit, Estate, Income Tax, Kiddie Tax, Tax Figures for 2019

FAQs about Social Security Retirement Benefits

Posted on Tue, Jul 19, 2016
For years, people have questioned the long-term viability of the Social Security system. In June, the Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds. It projects that the combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds will become depleted in 2034. Additionally, the Disability Insurance Trust Fund will become depleted in 2023.

More generally, people approaching retirement age often have other questions about benefits they may be eligible to receive from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Here are the answers to several common inquiries.

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Tags: Benefits, Retirement, Social Security, Income Tax

Answers to Questions about Corporate Tax Inversions

Posted on Mon, Sep 15, 2014

Over the last three decades, 52 U.S. companies have established a tax domicile abroad (these transactions are also known as corporate inversions, redomiciling or expatriation). Although corporate inversions are not new, they are more common than in the past. Since 2008, 22 companies have redomiciled abroad, with several other inversions currently in the works.

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Tags: EHTC Article, Corporate Tax Inversion, Income Tax, Articles, Taxes, Shareholder, Corporate, Expatriate Income