ASK KIM


How Marriage Affects Tax Status

Kimberly Lankford

Even if you tied the knot December 31, you would have to file your 2007 return as a married couple.



I got married on December 16, 2007. Do I file as single on my tax return because I was single for most of the year, or do I file as married?

Your marital status on December 31 is your marital status for the entire year. The same is true for divorce. So even if you got married in December 2007, Uncle Sam considers you to be married for all of 2007.

You can file jointly or married filing separately, although filing jointly is the best choice in almost all situations. If you're married filing separately, you'll give up access to a lot of important tax breaks. In most cases, you won't be eligible for a Roth IRA or the Hope and lifetime learning credit, for example.

One of the rare circumstances where filing separately can work, however, is if one of you has a lot of medical expenses and low income in one year. In that case, filing separately may make it easier to pass the 7.5% adjusted gross income threshold for deducting unreimbursed medical expenses. See the Kiplinger Taxopedia section on medical expenses for more information.

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Before you decide which way to file, run your numbers each way to see which option is best for you.

For more information about how your marital status can affect your tax bill, see Marriage and Taxes. Also see Tax Savings by Life Stage in the Kiplinger Tax Center for advice on minimizing your taxes and maximizing your deductions when you get married.

For more information about filing your taxes, see How to File Your Tax Return and IRS Tax Topic 353 What Is Your Filing Status? Also see the IRS's tax tip for avoiding tax-filing complications if you change your name after you get married or divorced.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.




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