Jill Schlesinger, a business analyst for CBS News, financial planner, and the host ofJill on Money, has a pragmatic view of marriage.
On Marketplace Weekend, she explained why she and her long-term partner have decided not to get married.
“We’re so unromantic!” she joked to host Lizzy O’Leary. “No, that’s not the reason. Honestly, it would be a massive marriage penalty for us.”
Schlesinger is referring to the amount that their taxes would increase if they filed jointly.
The “marriage penalty” occurs when the amount that a couple owes is higher than both their individual tax liabilities would have been if they’d stayed single.
High income couples and couples who earn similar salaries are the most likely to be affected.
Although Schlesinger didn’t share how much she and her partner make, she gave the hypothetical example of a couple whose individual salaries are $US50,000 and $US1 million a year.
Once that couple gets married, their salaries will be lumped together, and the tax liability for the partner earning less will suddenly go up.
For Schlesinger and her partner, it wasn’t worth it. “We could really be in a lot better shape financially saving that money for retirement than getting married and paying extra taxes every year,” she says.
Not all couples will have to make that decision.
“Most people will not incur a marriage penalty,” Schlesinger says.
In her work as a financial planner, she finds that couples who choose not to get married generally hesitate because of potential complications around death or divorce, particularly if they have been married before or have kids from previous relationships.
“There are probably more cases like that than people who say, ‘Oh, my tax bill is going to go up, so I don’t want to get married,'” she explains.