Married Filing Jointly and Proof of Marriage

When you marry your significant other, you face many details to prepare for married life, including combining your households and managing your finances together. After the end of the first calendar year in which you got married, you'll need to tackle your first income tax filing together. Married couples have two options when filing income taxes -- filing together or individually. The Internal Revenue Service does not require any significant proof to file using either married status.

Proof of Marriage

In most cases, the IRS does not validate whether you and the person you file jointly with are married. The IRS uses the Social Security Administration records to verify that the names and Social Security numbers match the information you provide on your tax return. If they don't, the IRS will reject your return if you filed electronically or contact you requesting additional information if you filed a paper return. If one or both of you plan to change your name but haven't done so by the time you file taxes, you can still file married filing jointly, but you will have to use the name on your Social Security card. Contact the Social Security Administration as soon as possible after your marriage to make the name change. You will have to provide a copy of your marriage license as proof.

Married Filing Jointly

Married couples have two options when filing income taxes -- filing jointly or filing separately. Married filing jointly combines the income, deductions, tax credits and tax liability of you and your spouse, allowing you to file one return together. When you file jointly, you receive double the standard deduction of single or separate filers and can claim an exemption for you and your spouse to lower your taxable income. The tax brackets for couples filing jointly double to accommodate multiple incomes. The threshold for tax credits and deductions is much higher for couples filing jointly.

Married Filing Separately

Couples who file taxes separately file two separate tax returns, and each spouse is responsible for paying only the taxes from that return. You and your spouse's incomes are separated, and the standard deduction you receive is the same as filing single. The tax brackets for couples filing separately are similar to filing single. When you file separately, the IRS reduces or eliminates your eligibility to claim certain tax credits and deductions, however, such as the earned income credit and child tax credit.

Common Law Marriage

If you are considered married through common law marriage, the IRS respects your marital agreement as a traditional marriage; however, this determination centers on your state laws. To qualify for the married filing jointly status, your common law marriage must be recognized by the state in which you reside or by the state in which your common law marriage originated. When you file your taxes, you will not need to provide proof of your common law marriage as long as the name on your return matches the name on file at the Social Security Administration office.

Definition of Marriage

You are considered married for the tax year if your marriage took place by Dec. 31 of that year. For tax purposes, the federal government recognizes only marriages between one man and one woman.

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About the Author

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.

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