Saturday, January 30, 2010
The marriage penalty
Okay, I'm going to bring up the subject of money because, quite frankly, American tax laws suck. Somehow it feels like a very touchy thing to talk about on a blog but I'm so frustrated with our system and I really have to idea what to do about it.
We now have W2s in hand and have begun the process of figuring out how much money is Uncle Sams and how much is ours. Along the way it occured to us to wonder about the "marriage penalty" seeing as we are planning on getting married this year. So, just for idle curiosity, I did a "what if we were married" and we calculated the taxes. And, WOW. Assuming that our incomes don't change we could expect to be penalized a LOT of money for being married, and we're talking thousands of dollars. Part of that is a change in tax brackets and part of that is the losses of several deductions. It would turn our refunds into a gigantic neon sign saying "money owed". I could cry right now.
Of course, that leaves us with the question of "now what?" That "extra money" isn't really extra and not having it would wipe us out. I suppose technically nothing says we have to be married since we aren't planning on having more kids and we have our own insurance policies through work. But not get married? I don't want to give that up.
Our state recognizes domestic partnerships and they do apply to hetero couples as well so maybe that's worth looking into so we could continue to file single (they aren't recognized at a federal level and therefore not by the IRS either). Because, among other things, if we weren't married we would have no legal right to make medical decisions or even be in the emergency room if something happened to the other person. But, in a DP we would have those rights. I'm wondering what the legal ramifications are exactly? Can we enter a domestic partnership and have my last name changed? Is that legal? Or should we just have a not-legally-binding commitment ceremony and draw up papers with a lawyer to cover the medical decision choices and whatnot? This is supposed to be simple. Why can't it be simple?
Anyone have an idea? What would you do in that kind of situation?