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.

  1. Are Cafeteria plans taxable?

    Whether the benefits you receive through your employer-sponsored cafeteria plan are taxable depends entirely on which benefits ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Why is Panama considered a tax haven?

    The Republic of Panama is considered one of the most well-established pure tax havens in the Caribbean due to extensive legislation ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Do financial advisors prepare tax returns for clients?

    Financial advisors engage in a wide variety of financial areas, including tax return preparation and tax planning for their ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How are variable annuities taxed at death?

    If the owner of a variable annuity dies before receiving full payment, his beneficiary must pay taxes on any earnings received. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How do I calculate insurance premium tax?

    In the United States, consumers do not pay any additional tax on health insurance premiums. However, your insurance premiums ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How can I find tax-exempt mutual funds?

    Tax-exempt mutual funds can be found at many prominent investment firms. Most mutual funds offer a variety of investment ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    Top Tips for Helping Clients Through a Divorce

    It may take a delicate touch to properly assist clients who are going through a divorce. Here are some tips.
  2. Professionals

    How to Get Free Social Security Spousal Benefits

    Married couples should thoroughly examine whether they are eligible to collect free spousal benefits on their Social Security income.
  3. Taxes

    Here's How to Deduct Your Stock Losses From Your Tax Bill

    Learn the proper procedure for deducting stock investing losses, and get some tips on how to strategically take losses to lower your income tax bill.
  4. Taxes

    The 5 Countries Without Income Taxes

    Discover information on some of the best countries to consider relocating to that offer the financial benefit of charging no income tax.
  5. Fundamental Analysis

    7 Ways to Create a Tax-Efficient Portfolio

    Taxes may be a necessary evil, but that doesn't mean they can't be reduced. Here's a host of smart moves today's investors can make.
  6. Investing

    Why to Buy Term Life Insurance with a Conversion Option

    Why you should always purchase a term life insurance policy that allows for an unrestricted conversion option.
  7. Economics

    Explaining Fair Market Value

    Fair market value is the price at which a buyer and seller are willing to exchange a good.
  8. Taxes

    4 Reasons Why Delaware Is Considered a Tax Shelter

    Understand what a tax shelter is and how one is normally created. Learn about Delaware and the top five reasons why it's considered a tax shelter.
  9. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    How Tax-Efficient Is Your Mutual Fund?

    Learn about factors that influence the tax-efficiency of your mutual fund, how income from your investment is taxed and what to look for when choosing a fund.
  10. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Understanding Taxes on Mutual Funds Dividends

    Learn about the basics of mutual fund dividend taxation, including how and why mutual funds pay dividends and when different tax rates apply to dividend income.
  1. Slander

    Slander is the act of harming one person’s reputation by telling ...
  2. Duty Free

    Goods that international travelers can purchase without paying ...
  3. Libel

    Libel is publishing a statement about someone in written form ...
  4. Equitable Division

    A legal theory that guides how property acquired during the course ...
  5. Tax Deductible Interest

    A borrowing expense that a taxpayer can claim on a federal or ...
  6. Deferred Tax Asset

    A deferred tax asset is an asset on a company's balance sheet ...

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!