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How to File Joint Taxes For the First Time

by Katharine Paljug on February 13, 2013

File Taxes JointlyFiling taxes together for the first time is a stumbling block for many married couples. If you’ve already examined your financial situation and decided that filing jointly is the best choice for you and your spouse, then it’s important to go through the process of filing step by step to make sure nothing is left out or misrepresented–this will ensure you get your maximum refund.

Documents You Need to File Taxes Jointly

You will need:

  • All tax paperwork supplied by your employers, including W2 and 1099 forms. If you are a student, you may also receive a 1098-T form for scholarship or tuition money.
  • 1099-DIV and 1099-INT forms, which will be sent if you have investments or receive interest on your bank accounts.
  • Your tax returns from previous years.
  • Records of your business, employee, education, childcare and medical expenses.

What You Need To Know About Filing Taxes Jointly

After you have put all your documents together, there are other key pieces of information that both you and your spouse should know:

  • How much each of you earned
  • What interest was paid on any student loans
  • How much you paid in points or interest on your mortgage
  • What large medical expenses you incurred in the last year
  • Whether you donated cash or goods
  • What quarterly or state taxes were paid over the previous year

This is also a great time to discuss your current finances and long-term financial goals. All the necessary paperwork will be right in front of you, and it’s important for both partners to have a solid sense of your financial situation.

Filing Taxes Jointly for the First Time? Don’t Forget…

To make sure your names are spelled correctly: It may seem silly, but make sure your names are correct on your forms. If either of you are planning to change or hyphenate your names, contact the Social Security Administration and the IRS. A mismatch between your name and your social security number on your tax return will result in your return being delayed or rejected, so make sure you file all necessary paperwork before you file your taxes.

To combine all your assets and debts: Remember, you’re filing a joint return. All income, withholding, expenses, and deductions should be combined in the appropriate places.

To have both of you sign at the end: Both of you must sign the return. If only one signature is present, the return cannot be processed.

To receive your refund: If you receive a refund, remember that there will only be one check mailed or deposit made for both of you. If you choose to receive a check, both of you must sign the back before it can be deposited.

Whether you work on your taxes together, assign responsibility to one person, or hire a professional to do it for you, it’s important that both spouses understand the process and the information that goes into it.  Tax time is a great opportunity to look over your financial situation. By April 16th, you should both have a good sense of your income, debt, and assets. Filing taxes will be less painful, and your finances will be more secure, when both you and your spouse are working from the same page.

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