How Getting Married Affects Your Taxes
Getting married can affect not only how you file your taxes but also how much you pay. What follows are some things you should consider before and after you get married with regards to your taxes, but this list is not exhaustive. As always, be sure to contact a tax attorney or other tax professional for advice on your specific situation.
1. Filing Status
If you are married on or before December 31, the Internal Revenue Service considers you married for that whole year. It is still your choice as to whether you file a joint return or separately.
Whether to file a joint return or separately is a decision each couple must make individually. Generally if both spouses work and one makes considerably more than the other, a joint return is advised. Also, there are certain tax credits for married individuals available only when joint returns are filed. On the other hand, certain deductions may be available to you only if you file separate returns depending your income.
One important consideration is that if you file separate returns and choose to itemize deductions instead of taking the standard deduction, the other spouse must do the same.
If you’re unsure as to whether you should file jointly or separately, you should consider consulting a tax attorney or other tax professional who can advise you on what is in your best financial interests.
2. Marriage Bonus
The marriage bonus refers to the situation in which a couple gains a tax advantage by filing together. This usually happens when one spouse earns significantly more than the other; when the income is combined, this can bring the higher earning spouse into a lower bracket as a joint filer than he or she would have been in as a single filer.
3. Marriage Penalty
Sometimes a couple ends up with a larger amount of tax due together than they would have had to pay separately, which often happens when the couple’s combined income pushes them into a higher tax bracket. This is called a marriage penalty; changes in tax laws have aimed to eliminate this penalty over the years by adjusting tax rates and standard deductions for joint filers, but you should still consider this a possibility and plan accordingly.