Photo: Flickr/Melissa O’Donohue
The cost associated with getting married goes far beyond the thousand-dollar wedding gown and luxury honeymoon cruise. There’s also that thing that happens after you walk down the aisle to consider: Life.
And happily ever after fetches a higher price than ever these days, especially as the expenses of married couples seems to ebb and flow with every session of Congress.
Gail Rosen, a Certified Public Accountant, put off her own nuptials back in the ’80s for tax reasons alone.
“We waited till January 1984 because it saved us $1,200,” She says. “The 15 per cent bracket (for couples filing jointly) wasn’t expanded back then. I figured: Let the IRS pay for our honeymoon!”
Call us pessimists, but we asked Rosen and several other experts for their advice on why you might be better off putting off the Big Day for now.
Just keep in mind that in many states, married couples split everything they make after they tie the knot 50/50.
'People in that gooey love state don't think about what marriage really means,' he says. 'By taking that two or three week period to hash out a prenuptial agreement, it can really help the relationship in the long run.'
Tina B. Tessina, a psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex, and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, cautions against marriage for couples who can't make simple financial decisions together.
'You can't build a successful marriage if you're fighting about one of the central pillars of marriage,' she says.
That means if you're throwing blows over things like a prenup, the deeds to your homes or how to protect your children in your will, you're probably not ready for a lifetime committed to one another.
Rosen warns couples against the 'marriage penalty' that applies to couples filing jointly.
Even though Congress expanded the joint filers' tax bracket to 30 per cent, that still leaves out couples who collectively fall outside that range.
'For example, say that each of two taxpayers has taxable income of $74,200 in 2011 (and assume double that, or taxable income of $148,400 on a join return): If married, their joint return tax would be $29,621.50. If single, each would owe $14,675, a total of $29,350.00.
The marriage penalty is $ 271.50.'
For marrieds, you can only deduct up to $3,000 for capital losses on your taxes.
By filing separately, you can each claim that much, for a total of $6,000, Rosen points out.
'Married couples who rent out real estate can deduct up to $25,000 of loss from the activity (if their modified AGI is $100,000 or less). Each single person would get up to the same $25,000 (up to $50,000 total) and each could earn $100,000 ($200,000 total).'
Also, remember that your Social Security benefits get taxed more after you're married since your income level rises.
Depending on your state, you could owe as much as 50 per cent of your assets in spousal support if you get divorced.
Divorce can also bang up your credit, especially if either partner finds themselves in a financial rut after losing income from an extra breadwinner.
'If you get married, your new spouse's income and assets are included when they determine how much financial aid you are eligible to receive,' says Joe Orsolini of College Aid Planners.
'I have a client that made this mistake (a six-figure one) this year and another that is pushing her wedding dates back based on college financial aid.'