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Family Tax Topics

How a Change of Marital Status Affects Your Taxes

Marriage–or divorce–may affect your filing status, the deductions you can claim, and your ability to claim related benefits. Find out what a change in marital status might mean for you.

Did you get married?

If you got married this year, congratulations! In terms of taxes, marriage could mean big changes. First, your filing status has changed and you now have the option of filing jointly with your spouse. Filing a joint return means a standard deduction worth $24,800. 

If you and your spouse decide to file separate returns, itemize deductions if your spouse does so on their return. In addition, you might not be able to claim the following tax benefits if you and your spouse file separately: 

  • Student loan interest
  • Education credits
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Premium Tax Credit
  • Child and Dependent Care Expenses
Tip/Help

If you had your marriage annulled in 2020, you are considered unmarried for this tax year and all affected tax years. You may need to amend your tax returns for all open tax years during which you were married, usually the three years prior to the year of annulment, in order to correctly reflect your marital status.

Divorce 

Getting divorced will impact your filing status. But note, your filing status is dictated by your marital status on December 31 of the tax year. So if you and your partner split up or separate, but you’re not divorced or legally separated according to your state’s law by the end of the year, your status is still “married,” and you and your spouse have the choice to file as "Married Filing Jointly" or "Married Filing Separately." 

You may be able to deduct alimony payments made in 2020 if your agreement was entered into prior to January 1, 2019. 

If your spousal support agreement was updated after December 31, 2018, that may also disallow the alimony deduction for the payer. 

Tax File Minute: Answers from a Tax Insider

How marriage and divorce impact your taxes

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