As I am sure you are aware, it is tax time again! There are many life events that lead to changes in your taxes—getting married, owning a home, and having children to name a few. If you are unfamiliar with how these changes can affect your taxes, this can be a very stressful time of year for you. However, it doesn’t need to be! There are many ways to get help with your taxes and they don’t have to be expensive.
Who can help?
- Obviously, you can seek the help of a tax professional. This is not the least expensive option, but if you feel completely lost with your taxes, it is probably the best route to take (see more in tip #4 below).
- If you feel like you have a good grip on your financial situation, then tax software may be the best option for you. This is what my husband and I did for filing our taxes this year. We decided on the H&R Block At Home Online Free Edition and were very happy with this decision. Step-by-step QA from H&R Block makes preparing your tax return easy. Plus we didn’t have to mess with filling out paperwork or doing our own calculations.
- If you prefer to do your own taxes but feel like you have a few questions you would like to have answered, you don’t necessarily need to see a tax professional in person. There are other ways to get help—one example is Pearl.com, which offers access to hundreds of tax experts for personalized advice, for an average of $30 per question.
One of these experts, John-Paul Valdez, has provided the tax filing tips for newlyweds shown below. John-Paul Valdez is a Pearl.com tax expert and former personal finance radio talk show host with over 25 years of experience giving people tax, savings and investment advice.
Tax expert advice for newlyweds
Tip #1: Keep in mind that, for income tax purposes, you are considered married if you were married at any time in 2012—even as late as Dec 31, 2012.
Tip #2: If you are in a same-sex registered domestic partnership (RDP) or same-sex marriage and live in California, Nevada or Washington, you will need to prepare your single federal tax returns based on that state’s community property rules. Tax software may not be able to calculate this for you, so refer to IRS Publication 555—or get help from a tax professional.
Tip #3: In majority of cases, filing jointly is to your benefit. This means that you will be able to claim several credits, including the earned income credit, household/dependent care expense credit, adoption assistant credit and more.
Tip #4: If you have financial issues that you haven’t discussed with each other in detail, paying a tax professional to help you with your taxes may be a wise investment. A tax pro can help counsel you over the new issues that you may have been uncomfortable discussing for whatever reason, and will certainly lead to the best filed return. It will also set the tone for future years.
One newlywed’s advice
Tip #5: As a newlywed, I found that communication was important in all aspects of our marriage, and this definitely held true for our taxes! Although it may be difficult, sit down and do your taxes as a couple the first year. This will help you both understand all aspects of your finances. You each have your own financial past, and now you need to merge these pasts into your financial future together. Any dirty laundry needs to be aired, and tax time is actually an opportune time.
Do you and your spouse do your taxes together? What works for you?
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