Once you tie the knot, many aspects of your life change. Not only are you sharing your home with your lifelong partner, you're also sharing taxes. Your tax situation will change significantly when you file jointly -- probably for the better. The Internal Revenue Service gives married couples several tax breaks, including larger tax credits and lower tax brackets. Depending on your income and whether both of you work, you could stand to receive a nice chunk of change at tax time. To find out how your taxes will change once you're married, take your taxes on a test run.
Grab the latest copy of your paystub. If your spouse also works, grab that paystub too. To compare your taxes, you should also track down a copy of the previous year's income tax returns for both of you.
Download Form 1040 and the 1040 instructions from the IRS website.
Check the "Married Filing Jointly" box and check the "Exemptions" boxes for both you and your spouse.
Enter the names of any dependents. Add up the boxes you checked in the "Filing Status" and "Exemptions" section. This is the number of exemptions you can claim filing jointly.
Enter your estimated income for the year, based on the information on your pay stubs plus any investment income. For example, if it's the end of June and your gross income is $55,000, your estimated income for the year is $110,000. Do the same for any adjustments to your income.
Subtract your adjustments from your income to find out your estimated adjusted gross income.
Enter your itemized deductions or standard deduction amount into the corresponding line. If you plan to itemize, use an estimate the same way you estimated your income.
Subtract your itemized or standard deduction from your adjusted gross income.
Multiply your exemptions by the current exemption rate, which is $3,800 as of 2012. Enter this amount in the "Exemptions" line.
Subtract your exemption amount from your remaining estimated income. This is your taxable income.
Use the tax table on the 1040 instructions to find your tax. Enter this amount in the line labeled "Tax" on Form 1040.
Check out the bottom line on last year's tax return and compare this year's estimated tax to last year's tax. This represents the difference between your filing single and filing married. To compare the difference between both of you filing single and filing married, add in your spouse's tax from the previous year. That's where you should begin to see a reduction, assuming your incomes were steady year to year.
Research each credit listed on Form 1040 using the 1040 instructions to find out whether you qualify. If you do, enter the amount of your credit in the appropriate line.
Subtract your credits from your tax.
Enter an estimate of your income tax withholding in the line labeled "Federal Income Tax Withheld." Again, if it's June 30 and you've had $5,000 withheld for federal taxes, your estimated tax withholding for the year is $10,000.
Complete Form 1040 to find out whether you might owe money or receive a refund. Compare this amount to your previous year's taxes.
- You can also try filling out Form 1040 using the married but filing separately status to see if you'll owe less tax. In most cases, however, the married filing jointly status results in a lower tax liability.
Angela M. Wheeland specializes in topics related to taxation, technology, gaming and criminal law. She has contributed to several websites and serves as the lead content editor for a construction-related website. Wheeland holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and criminal justice. She has owned and operated her own income tax-preparation business since 2006.