A:

You are generally considered married for tax purposes as long as you were married as of the last day of the year, regardless of whether your marriage license has been issued. Your last name is a non-issue, as many married couples file jointly even when they have different last names.

The decision about whether to file joint or separate returns depends on which would be better for you from a financial perspective. The best way to make this determination is to have your tax preparer prepare a draft of both types of returns (single and married-filing-jointly) so that you can determine which produces the better results for you and your spouse.

For more insight, see Happily Married? File Separately! and The Tax Benefits Of Having A Spouse.

This question was answered by Denise Appleby.

RELATED FAQS
  1. What are the income limits for Roth IRA contributions?

    The 2007 and 2008 income limits for Roth IRA contributions are as follows: Situations 2007 2008 Individuals who are married ... Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    Marriage Vs. Common Law: What It Means Financially

    The number of unmarried couples is on the rise, but your relationship may or may not be given the same benefits as married couples.
  2. Financial Advisor

    2016 Tax Code Changes Add Some Wiggle Room

    It's never too early to prepare for tax season. Next year features a host of tax law changes. Check our handy list to see which ones apply to you.
  3. Personal Finance

    5 Things To Consider Before Late-In-Life Marriage

    Waiting to marry has become the norm, but do you know what to consider before saying "I do"?
  4. Personal Finance

    Gay Marriage and Taxes: Everything You Should Know

    Same-sex couples now have a variety of tax strategies to consider.
  5. Taxes

    Top Reasons to File Separately When Married

    Usually couples file their taxes jointly, not separately. Except for these possible exceptions...
  6. Personal Finance

    6 Ways Marriage Can Improve Your Finances

    Understanding your partner's situation is an essential step before combining your finances - but the perks can be plentiful.
  7. Tech

    Married with Money? Avoid These Costly Mistakes

    High net worth couples face more complex challenges than others when managing wealth. Try to avoid these easy-to-make errors.
  8. Personal Finance

    Are the Financial Benefits of Marriage Still Appealing for All?

    Because many men and women are earning higher incomes, the financial benefits of marriage may not be as great as they were in the past.
  9. Financial Advisor

    Tax Time is Coming; Don't Be Caught Off Guard

    It's time to think about tax returns again. The good news is that the regulations in 2016 have not changed dramatically from last year.
  10. Personal Finance

    Marrying Your Finances: File Jointly And Save!

    Read these tips to find financial (and wedded) bliss, and put some cash in your pockets.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Married Filing Jointly

    A filing status for married couples that have wed before the ...
  2. Joint Return

    A U.S. income tax return filed on behalf of a married couple, ...
  3. IRS Publication 555

    A document published by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that ...
  4. Marriage Penalty

    The increased tax burden for married couples compared to when ...
  5. Filing Status

    A category that defines the type of tax return form an individual ...
  6. IRS Form 4868

    An IRS form that must be submitted by individuals who wish to ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Price Elasticity Of Demand

    A measure of the relationship between a change in the quantity demanded of a particular good and a change in its price. Price ...
  2. Market Capitalization

    The total dollar market value of all of a company's outstanding shares. Market capitalization is calculated by multiplying ...
  3. Frexit

    Frexit – short for "French exit" – is a French spinoff of the term Brexit, which emerged when the United Kingdom voted to ...
  4. Stop-Limit Order

    An order placed with a broker that combines the features of stop order with those of a limit order. A stop-limit order will ...
  5. Down Round

    A round of financing where investors purchase stock from a company at a lower valuation than the valuation placed upon the ...
  6. Keynesian Economics

    An economic theory of total spending in the economy and its effects on output and inflation. Keynesian economics was developed ...
Trading Center