I got married this last year in December. I had done my taxes as if I was not married and had no dependents, which was correct in January. My wife currently does not have a job. Should this effect my income tax filing and return, and if so how?

  • 2
    I had a friend whose parents got married December 30th or something purely to take advantage of the tax benefits of getting married in that year :)
    – enderland
    Mar 17 '13 at 17:17
  • That must be a logistical nightmare, unless the next day there's a New Year's Eve party in the same location and saving the scraps from the wedding. Apr 27 '15 at 4:37

File your taxes with the status you have as of last day of that tax year.

If you are married as of Dec. 31, that’s your marital status for the entire year for tax purposes. You and your spouse usually may choose to file your federal income tax return either jointly or separately in any given year. You may want to figure the tax both ways to determine which filing status results in the lowest tax. In most cases, it’s beneficial to file jointly.

So the effect is that you withholding as single with no dependents was higher than it needed to be, and you essentially estimated too high in taxes, but when you file that will all get straightened out and your refund should reflect it.


  • 1
    BTW, when the pitter-patter of little feet run through the house, the same rule applies; any addition to your family that is in the house as of Dec 31st is a personal exemption for the entire year. This eventually will work the other way for you; the year the kid gets his own job and becomes his own dependent is the year you can't claim him anymore, even if you spent a significant amount of money getting him out the door.
    – KeithS
    Oct 14 '13 at 20:16
  • The exception is that if you are widowed and do not remarry that year, you still get to file as married.
    – user102008
    Oct 15 '13 at 9:46

If you got married in December 2009, for 2009 you were married. Your choices are Married Filing Joint, or Married Filing Single Separately.

As soon as you are certain of the pending marriage, it would be in your best interest to adjust the W4 accordingly. If you leave it as single, you stand to get a large refund.

If your wife had no income in 2009, you are to the better, by quite a bit, both for standard deduction, exemptions, and brackets.

  • 4
    Whatever your status on Dec. 31 is considered to have been your status for the tax year - point finale.
    – Nat_Rea
    Mar 31 '10 at 22:37

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