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The "Marriage Penalty"

April 16th, 2014 at 03:23 pm

I had heard about the “marriage penalty” years ago, but sort of (naively) assumed it had nothing to do with me. I just read about it again, and the article provided this link, where you can see if you’re affected by the marriage penalty. http://taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/marriagepenaltycalculator.cfm

And we so are!!! The more equal your two incomes are, greater the chance of a penalty. D and I make almost the same amount. Together we make $87,800. If one of us made that much, and the other stayed home, we’d pay almost $1300 less in taxes. That is a lot of money!

As a side note - this was designed as a marriage bonus, and did function that way back when there was only one wage-earner per household. It still is a bonus for those families where only one spouse is working. So it’s not really the “marriage penalty.” It’s really the “two working spouses” penalty. (According to the article I read, that is 57% of married people).

It’s a moot point, though, because despite our work experience and master’s degrees, we’re both in careers where neither one of us can make $80k. So there you go. We both work, and we both make almost the same amount.

4 Responses to “The "Marriage Penalty"”

  1. PatientSaver Says:

    Would you be better off if you filed single returns?

  2. Buendia Says:

    Probably! Almost definitely! But I think we need to talk to a tax person... Might put in a call to the IRS in a few weeks when tax season is officially over.

  3. CB in the City Says:

    Hmmm. I always thought there was a single person penalty, and that married people got the tax break. Maybe things have changed!

  4. Buendia Says:

    That's sort of correct - married people get a huge break, but only if only one half of the couple works (or if one half of the couple makes significantly more than the other). Otherwise, it would be better to be single making the same wages rather than married making the same wages...

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