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3 marriage-related tax tips to celebrate Spouse's Day

It's national Spouse's Day. Yes, apparently this is a real day, real in the sense that somebody came up with the idea and managed to get the word out there enough that it's generating some attention.


I don't know how I've missed this holiday in previous years, being such a perfect wife to a great husband, but I discovered it today.  Thanks Twitter #SpousesDay.

And given that this is the first year that all married couples, regardless of gender and in every state, will be filing joint tax returns, it seems like a perfect day to remind folks of their officially wedded filing duties.

Here are three quick tax tips to ensure that all y'all who share wedded bliss all share tax joy at filing time.

Your anniversary matters at tax time, too: The U.S. Supreme Court ruling validating same-sex marriage was issued on June 26, 2015. But the important tax date for married couples is Dec. 31.

Your marital status is determined by whether you're married or not on the last day of the tax year. If you said "I do" in a New Year's Eve ceremony, then Uncle Sam says that for filing purposes you were married for that whole tax year.

The same is true for ending marriages, but that's for another day. (Is there an Ex-Spouse's Day?)

One return usually better: As a married couple, you have two choices when filing your taxes. You can submit your taxes as married filing jointly or you can select married filing separately.

In most cases, filing jointly is preferable. Two folks filing one return generally offers a lower tax rate on more money. There also are some tax breaks that aren't allowed to married couples who file separate returns.

Of course, with taxes, nothing is set in stone. In some cases, couples find that filing separately is a better tax move. This tends to happen when one husband or wife has a lot of medical expenses that just aren't deductible on a joint return, but which do meet the 10 percent of adjusted gross income threshold based on the ailing spouse's income alone.

Also, some couple like to file separate 1040s when one spouse has questions about the other's tax filing techniques.

Regardless of why you might be considering two instead of one 1040, check out both options before making a final filing decision.

Beware the tax penalty: Marriage has many advantages -- that's part of the reason the hubby and I have hung on for more than three decades! -- but at tax time, some folks find they face a marriage tax penalty.

This is where a couple finds that they are paying more in taxes as joint filers they would have paid if they had filed as single taxpayers. It generally happens when both spouses make roughly the same amount of money. And filing separately, with its special tax rate brackets, doesn't necessarily alleviate this disparity.

On the other hand, some married couple discover that their joint filing status gives them a tax bonus. So, as with filing separately or jointly, look at your options.

Yes, marriage can complicate taxes. But isn't that a small price to pay for having the one you love at your side forever?

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