IRS’ gift to newlyweds: sound advices
In this brave new world of a kinder and gentler Internal Revenue Service (IRS), there’s a hot tip to go along with the hot weather and summer nuptials. Adam Sandler may not have had it high on the list of wedding activities, but there are a few simple steps the IRS says can help keep tax issues from interrupting newly-wedded bliss.
If you married recently, check your new tax status, advises the IRS because you might save money or prevent the problem of a missing refund check.
The first things to handle are name and address changes. As tax season approaches, consider whether or not you'll itemize deductions, which tax return form is right for you, and what filing status you'll use.
You shouldn’t delay the cake-cutting or honeymoon because of taxes, but here are some helpful hints for later:
· Use the correct name: You must provide correct names and identification numbers to claim personal exemptions or the Earned Income Tax Credit on your tax return. If you changed your name upon marrying, let the Social Security Administration know and update your Social Security card so the number matches your new name. Use Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card.
· Report any change of address: If you or your spouse have a new address, notify the U.S. Postal Service, so it will be able to forward any tax refunds or IRS correspondence. The Postal Service will pass your new address on to the IRS, which will update your account. You may notify IRS directly by sending Form 8822, Change of Address. Or write to the IRS center where you filed your most recent return and provide your full name, old and new addresses, SSN and signature. Remember to let your employers know about any name or address changes so you'll receive your W-2s after the end of the year.
· Get that refund check: Each year, the Postal Service returns thousands of tax refund checks as undeliverable, usually because the addressee has moved. Notifying the Postal Service and the IRS of an address change in a timely manner can help ensure the proper delivery of any refund checks. To check the status of a tax refund, use the IRS's "Where's My Refund?" service, or call the toll-free refund line at 1-800-829-1954. If your refund check was returned to the IRS as undeliverable, call the toll-free customer service line at 1-800-829-1040 to arrange for re-issuance.
· Select the right form - Choosing the right individual income tax form can help save money. Newly-married taxpayers may find they have enough deductions to itemize on their tax returns. Amounts paid for medical care, mortgage interest, contributions, casualty losses, and certain miscellaneous costs can reduce your taxable income, lowering your tax. You must use Form 1040 if you itemize deductions. You can’t claim these deductions if you file Form 1040A or 1040EZ, although you may subtract some other items on these basic forms. If the tax package you receive in January doesn't have all the forms you need, you may download them from the IRS Web site, or call (toll-free) 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).
· Choose the best filing status: Your marital status on Dec. 31 determines whether you are considered married for that year. Married persons may file their federal income-tax return either jointly or separately in any given year. Choosing the right filing status may save you money. A joint return allows spouses to combine their income and to deduct combined deductions and expenses on a single tax return. Both spouses must sign the return and both are held responsible for the contents.
For additional information, see IRS Tax Tip 2004-16, Marriage or Divorce at www.irs.gov.