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4 crucial tax mistakes the newly married must avoid

If you got married in the last year, it's a game-changer when it comes to filing your taxes. The IRS does not look kindly on mistakes and errors, even simple ones. Below are four critical things to keep in mind as you file.

File under the proper name

Maybe one of you changed your last name to match that of your new spouse. Maybe you're both keeping your old last names, but you're still filing jointly, as a married couple. Either way, it's critical that you both file under the proper names so there's no confusion. The IRS is incredibly picky when it comes to identification details. They're always trying to prevent fraud and to make sure that everyone who owes taxes has actually filed. For couples earning $250,000 or more per year, they're especially picky since high-income filings net more in taxes.

File under the right status

If you've always filed individually before, you now may decide to file as a married couple, doing so jointly. In some cases, you and your spouse could also file separately even though you're married. Still, you have to note that you are married and are just filing on your own, rather than filing by yourself - the implication there being that you're single. The status you choose has to match up with your new status in life.

Get all necessary signatures and birth dates

Filing together means that you both have to sign off on it, even if only one of you does the work. If you file your taxes yourself, you must fill out the profile for your spouse - name, correct date of birth, etc. - but then both of you have to sign the documents properly at the end. Even e-filings must be electronically signed and need to have the proper PIN for both of you. Realistically - even if you have your accountant do your taxes - you should both look over the documents individually and only sign off on them if you agree that all information is accurate.

Sending refunds to the wrong bank account

If you get your refund with direct deposit, remember to use the correct account. You probably had individual savings and checking accounts until now. As a married couple, getting a shared refund, you may want to send it to a new joint account.

Avoiding mistakes

Granted, many of these areas are simply things you had to do correctly before you got married, but it's doubly important to think of them now since it's easier to forget as a couple. For example, it's a simple oversight to prepare and double-check all the documents and then send them in without your new spouse's signature, since you've never had to do that before. But it can definitely derail the process. Make sure you know exactly what you're legally obligated to do to avoid mistakes.

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Chaya Kundra will be a panelist at the New England IRS Representation Conference on Preparer Penalties.

Preparer Penalties: Everything You Need to Know! Over time the IRS has increased its focus from individual taxpayers to tax preparers. When the IRS identifies a pattern of false or fraudulent returns, it does not hesitate to impose penalties on the return preparers. This panel will walk you through the various penalties and what preparers need to know to protect themselves.

Moderator: Amanda Evans, Green & Sklarz LLC, New Haven, CT

Panelists: Chaya Kundra, Kundra & Associates, Rockville, MD, Barbara Kaplan, Greenburg Traurig, New York, NY

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