Thanks to the landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges last June, same-sex married couples now enjoy all of the federal protections and benefits offered by marriage throughout the nation. Many of these same-sex couples may find themselves confused when tax time comes ”“ after all, many of them have never been married before, at least not for federal tax purposes.
One of those benefits (or detriments, depending on how you feel about taxes) is the ability to file joint taxes. However, depending on your financial status and the difference between you and your spouse’s incomes, you may find it more beneficial to file married, but separately.
Filing Jointly vs. Filing Separately
If you or your spouse make significantly more money than the other party, you may benefit from the “marriage bonus” of filing jointly. This means that your income is averaged out. The lower income earner will owe slightly more in taxes, while the higher income earner will owe slightly less; this has the combined effect of lowering your combined tax burden.
If you make the same amount of money, by filing jointly you might actually end up owing more. If your combined income would take you into a higher tax bracket, you might be better off filing separately. Unfortunately, the only real way to make sure is to calculate both totals and to see which leaves you better off.
Also, don’t forget to adjust your retirement plans, wills and estate plans with your updated marital status and beneficiaries.
Speak to a Denver family law attorney about any questions you have regarding your finances or legal documents following marriage.