Congratulations. You made it through the gauntlet of planning a wedding. You survived the awkward hugs and expensive price tags (some of which you may be able to write off) of the wedding itself. Now, you just have to survive tax season. How your marriage will impact your tax bill depends on a number of different things, and some of them you would be wise to start planning for now. There are a myriad of different scenarios–kids, no kids, filing jointly, filing independently–but for this post I’ll be focusing only on how marriage impacts your taxes if you are filing jointly with your partner and do not have kids.
Understanding Tax Brackets
If you’re filing jointly, the short answer is that the IRS adds your incomes together and divides by half. So, if your husband makes $50,000 a year and you make $50,000 a year, you’ll end up paying the same amount in taxes that you paid as a single lady ($50,000 + $50,000=$100,000; $100,000/2=$50,000). Your tax bracket remains the same.
However, if you’re ballin’ at $200,000 and your husband is a soulful creative who makes $20,000, the IRS will still add your income together and then divide by two to calculate your bracket. In this case, your hubby is essentially a tax shelter for your boss income. He’s also probably ridiculously handsome. And a good cook. Hopefully.
If, like my husband and I this year, one of you made substantially more money than the other spouse, your marriage could save you a lot of money come tax season.While we used to make the same amount as each other, this year, I quit my teaching job, so we are down two full tax brackets. We are dangerously close to the cusp between two brackets, though, which means that by maxing out my husband’s 401-K, we might just save ourselves as much as $8,000 this year.
Taxes are boring, right?
To me, getting $8,000 more just because we took the time to learn about taxes feels almost like magic. And magic is anything but boring. I know that I have only just scratched the surface of how to make money by leveraging the tax code, but my initial investigating left me excited to learn more!
We made an appointment with an accountant to see if there are any other benefits we might be able to reap–we also own a rental property together and had to spend quit a bit of money on it this year due to some unfortunate week-of-wedding plumbing issues. I’ll update this post after that meeting, but in the meantime, here’s a great NerdWallet resource on tax brackets.