My fiance works for a company. I'm self employed with an S-Corp in New York State. We'll be getting married a few days into 2010.

State license laws require that you have the marriage license issued with some lead time to the actual ceremony, so we'll be getting the marriage license issued in 2009. We're both residents of New York, but our marriage license will be issued by Massachusetts since that's the state we'll be married in.

When does the IRS consider our marriage official from a taxation standpoint? I'm assuming this wouldn't be until 2010, but would appreciate some insight. Would there be any tax benefit to having a justice of the peace make our marriage official before year-end so that we could file jointly in 2009?

asked 29 Nov '09, 15:31

Dave's gravatar image

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edited 25 Aug '10, 03:51

stephenweinstein's gravatar image


The marriage license gives you state permission to get married, you are not married until an official makes it so. So until you take the vows and are declared married you are not. Therefor you will be married in 2010. Would it be better to have JP do it in 2009?

Brent is correct, only someone who can look at your entire situation and is able to evaluate both New York State and federal taxation could make that determination.


answered 29 Nov '09, 21:36

AJ's gravatar image

accept rate: 5%

Your marital status on the last day of your taxable year is what determines your filing status options for a given year. In your case, you will NOT be married on December 31, 2009 so you cannot file a joint return with your betrothed.

Your second question seems to be - would it be better for me, taxwise, to get married officially in 2009?

As is always the case - Maybe, It Depends. There a lots of factors that come into play when considering the tax implications of marriage. For example, if one of you has a rental property that is showing tax losses AND your combined adjusted gross income, without regard to the rental losses, is over going to be over $150K, then your rental losses will get suspended and not be deductible currently - so you might want to NOT get married and get the tax break.

Without all of your personal details, which I would NEVER recommend you post on this or any other open forum, no one is going to be able to tell you what happens to your tax situation when you get married.

I would STRONGLY recommend that you make an appointment with a local tax pro to discuss your situation in detail while there is still enough to time to visit the local Justice of the Peace, if your situation should warrant.


answered 29 Nov '09, 23:24

EAgent's gravatar image

accept rate: 6%

The determination of "marital status" is made at the end of the tax year. In order to be considered married for 2009, you must be "legally married" by December 31, 2009 at 11:59:59pm. (Section 7703)

Depending upon your "facts & circumstanes" that includes income and deductions considerations, it may be beneficial to file jointly for 2009, but a thorough analysis would be necessary prior to making the ultimate decision.

I suggest you consult your tax advisor for assistance, however, if you do not have one, as I am intricately familar with "filing status" considerations, I would be more than willing to offer & provide any assistance for the determination.

More information about me is available on my blog @, or you can contact me directly via e-mail at


answered 29 Nov '09, 17:26

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Brent Berkman
accept rate: 13%

You are considered married when you are married before the end of the year. (Very redundant answer but true.) Merely getting the license does not mean you are married. As you stated, the State of New York requires you to wait before tieing the knot, and you are actually getting married FOR REAL in Massachusetts, so as one of my esteemed colleagues has already noted, if this is the route you take, then 2010, is when the bell rings for you. You can read the actual verbiage as it pertains to marriage in the IRS manual see page 5 of Publication 501 at this website.


answered 30 Nov '09, 05:41

a%20tax%20pro%20jeffrey%20rosan's gravatar image

a tax pro je...
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The IRS considers your marriage official whenever it becomes official according to the laws of the state in which it happened. If the actual marriage occurs in 2010, then the IRS considers you married for 2010 and not for 2009. If the actual marriage occurs in 2009, then the IRS you married for 2009.

One way to avoid the waiting period is to fly to Las Vegas and get married with no waiting period.

In some cases, but not all, there are tax benefits to marrying and filing jointly. For example, if one person paid for the medical expenses of the other person, then these can be deducted only if the persons are married or the one who paid can claim the patient as a dependent. In other cases, there is a tax benefit to remaining single, especially if the higher earner qualifies to file as head of household.


answered 02 Jan '10, 19:37

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obviously the Buy Viagra IRS is the best for me theres no doubt about this.


answered 23 Jun '11, 17:08

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supremo opresor
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Asked: 29 Nov '09, 15:31

Seen: 7,191 times

Last updated: 23 Jun '11, 17:08