(Closed) Marriage Penalty Tax

posted 7 years ago in Married Life
Post # 32
23 posts
  • Wedding: October 2012

We have entered our information into turbotax and it looks like we are going to be getting less back then filing as single. We would like to change our withholdings to get as close to 0$ as possible but we are nervous as to what to put down because we don’t want to calculate it incorrectly and have to owe a huge amount to the government.  We want to make sure we change our withholdings correct, do any of you Bees have any advice on this?

Post # 33
1038 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

I was so nervous doing our taxes last night because I was scared we would owe.  Thankfully we are getting a pretty decent refund that is going to be used as spending money on our delayed honeymoon in March!!!

Post # 34
1137 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

@ThreeMeers:  If he’s doing consulting on the side with his own business/schedule c, make sure he pays estimated taxes. That will kick you in the butt too.

Darling Husband has been putting our taxes together and it’s not looking pretty. We made more than we realized and are in a higher tax bracket now. Looks like we owe a few thousand, but it also looks like he isn’t getting penalized for not paying enough in estimated taxes (at least right now). I’m hoping it doesn’t increase anymore.. neither of us changed our deductions from single and last year we got money back.

Post # 35
3178 posts
Sugar bee

@KAH:  For you and other bees who got married late in the year (I assume your wedding date next to your name is correct), you can file single if you got married in the last 6 months of the year. You can also choose to file married instead. You just have to be married for less than 6 months as of December 31, 2012.

My information is reliable as I did get it out of the tax handbook printed by the IRS every year. Also, I used to prepare tax returns for a CPA firm (I did at least 85-90% of their individual returns). I did that for the past 3 years as a bookkeeper even though the CPA signed and took credit for all my work and thank goodness I am not doing that anymore! 

Sorry, no answers to your withholding questions though. Different payroll software chooses to withhold different amounts.

Post # 36
2393 posts
Buzzing bee




Yikes at the $4,500 tax bill… sorry you got that bad news!


I just got my W-4 and this will be my and DH’s first year of filing jointly. He is going to do the whole thing on Turbo Tax and I’ve been a bit anxious to find out how all of this will shake down. We do live in a state that does not have the marriage penalty tax, so that’s a good start. Fingers crossed.

Post # 37
1369 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

You don’t have to file jointly if you’re married – you can filed separate, but married – or something like that. I’m a little fuzzy on the terminology. I’ve worked in a CPA firm for 2 years and I’ve seen clients that file taxes that way because they get a larger refund. It’s just something to look into.

Post # 38
633 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

It definitely hasn’t hurt us! In fact, we just did our taxes and our refund is over $5,000 this year. The best advice I ever got when I got married was to keep my “withholdings” on my w-4 at “married but withhold at a higher, single rate”. We also own a house and itemize, so that probably factors in – and we make roughly the same amount so we don’t bump into a higher tax bracket. I definitely get MORE of an income since getting married, which is awesome. Again, if you find yourself owing or worried, make sure to adjust your withholdings.

Post # 39
1577 posts
Bumble bee

We’ve never owed and our returns since getting married have been better than our individual returns before marriage :/ not sure what the difference is with us that makes it work out that way – my mother does our taxes since she used to be an accountant and she is always able to find the best way to file to get the most money back. Of course, our incomes are not similar at all, he’s the “breadwinner” and we also have gotten tuition credits back every year since we’ve been married since we were paying for his school the past two years.

Post # 40
7310 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2011 - Bed & Breakfast

OP- Sorry you owe.In a country that supposedly “supports” marriage, it just plain does not make sense to tax the hell out of the institution. But then again, when have tax laws ever made any logical sense? lol

We got hit with the same unpleasant surprise last year. We went from getting $4000 back as tax returns when filing as single in 2010 to owing $200 in 2011. Our incomes had not changed between 2010 and 2011, but we got married in 2011 so we got hit with the marriage penalty. It sucks that we pay $4200 more in taxes JUST because we got married. Fortunately neither of us had adjusted our deductions, so the actual check we wrote last April wasn’t too large. But still. We pay more money to the government simply for being married.

For thise who are interested, the “marriage tax penalty” is not a seperate tax. It’s the fundamental issue of how your taxes are calculated. When you combine incomes, there are times when that newly combined income level pushes you into a higher tax bracket. This seems to effect dual higher income earners the most. If you look at the table below (borrowed from here: http://www.tax-brackets.org/federaltaxtable , accuracy not verified), it provides a rather simplified illustration of the issue. In the 25% bracket a “couple” is essentially double the income of a “single”. But if you move up to the 28% bracket, a couple is only 60% more than a “single”. So if combining your incomes raises your overall figure more than 60%, you are bumped up to the next higher bracket; meaning that you pay more taxes not because your actual income has changed, but because you got married and now your shared incomes are considered as one. So couples where both are financially successful actually do better, tax wise, to stay single and co-habitate.

Tax Bracket (Single)

Tax Bracket (Couple)

Tax Bracket (Head of Household)

Marginal Tax Rate

























Post # 41
41 posts
  • Wedding: February 2013

@misspeanut:  I work for the IRS and agree the w4 calculators are fantastic and easy to use. I also want to put out a Public Service Announcement that people often misunderstand. If you owe and decide to file an extension’ rt he extension is for time to file not pay the tax. Penalty and interest begin April 16. They are no joke.

Post # 42
41 posts
  • Wedding: February 2013

I’m not sure too why you like getting a refund back? That pretty much means you gave an interest free loan to the government. My goal is to owe  less than $5. This year I owe $17.

Post # 43
4044 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

@sekonick:  Right? I’d rather have money in my paycheck all year than get a big refund (which is fun for a few mintues until you realize you could had that money all along).

Post # 44
6739 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2014

@sekonick:  I like getting a refund back because even though you’re 100% right that it’s a tax free loan to my government, it’s also like I put money into savings that I know I wouldn’t have otherwise.  Now, if I could just put that money into savings instead and collect interest, my goal would also be to get no refund back and not owe more than like $5. 

Post # 45
3092 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

So if our state doesn’t have an income tax this won’t effect us at all?

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