As newlyweds, how should my husband and I file taxes if I’m quitting my job to go back to school?

by Carlo J. Silvesti, CPA | Aug 07, 2018

I got married in July. I’m quitting my job to go back to school next month, so my annual income will be less than $20,000 for the year. My husband’s income is just above $45,000. How should we file our taxes to ensure maximum return throughout the year? If he can, should my husband claim me as a dependent?

As a married couple, you should file income tax as married filing jointly. The IRS requires this filing for the whole year, even if you are married on Dec. 31. The only other choice is to file as married filing separately, but this generally results in higher taxes for the married couple.
Concerning your husband’s withholding status, he should adjust it to married. As a result, his paycheck will have a higher take-home, but will result in a smaller refund. It comes down to whether you want the money now or in a refund. You and your husband need to make that decision. If you are asking how many exemptions he should take, I cannot answer that without doing a complete review of your individual circumstances.

I recommend consulting a CPA for more detailed answers concerning your personal situation.

For more resources, check out PICPA’s Money & Life Tips, Ask a CPA, or CPA Locator.

Answered by: Carlo J. Silvesti, CPA, is an assistant professor of accounting at Gwynedd Mercy University in Gwynedd Valley, Pa.

The responses are based on the limited information provided by the questioner and apply the laws and regulations at the time of posting. Other options could arise as rules and regulations may change over time, including but not limited to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. They are intended to provide general information, not specific accounting or tax advice; they are not intended or written to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding or evading taxes or penalties under the IRS code or regulations. Views expressed do not imply an opinion of the PICPA, its officers, directors, employees, or members.
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