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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 seem 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% 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.
One of You Stands to Inherit a Fortune
Just keep in mind that in many states, married couples split everything they make after they tie the knot 50/50.The best way to protect yourself? Hammer out a prenuptial agreement before you head down the aisle, says David Pisarra, a family law attorney."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."
You Still Can't Agree on How to Handle Your Finances
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.
The 'Marriage Penalty' Still Exists
Rosen warns couples against the "marriage penalty" that applies to couples filing jointly. Even though Congress expanded the joint filers' tax bracket to 30%, that still leaves out couples who collectively fall outside that range. Per Rosen:
"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."
And You Can't Claim as Much in Losses on Taxes
The Tax Deduction Rate Is Lower for Married Renters
Per Rosen: "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.
Divorce Doesn't Come Cheap These Days
Depending on your state, you could owe as much as 50% of your assets in spousal support if you get divorced. Just ask Kobe Bryant how that feels. Divorce can also bang up your credit, especially if either partner finds themselves in a financial rut after losing income from an extra breadwinner.
You Won't Get as Much College Aid
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