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Where are all these marriage tax breaks I keep hearing about?

I am working on our taxes. It’s my job in our relationship to deal with this. I’m not sure how or why it evolved this way, but it did, and it’s ok since Jim deals with tons of our other financial stuff. It’s pretty last minute for me to be so close to the April 15th deadline without having filed my paperwork. I’m a little sick over it. Not just the tardiness, but the glowing, bold, red numbers that signify how much I owe to the Feds. I’ve never actually used the word “Feds” before this year. But now I owe the nameless, faceless governmental agency so much freaking money, I pronounce “Feds” with disdain, a little spittle gathering in the corner of my mouth as I hiss the word over and over again, slapping away at my calculator, breaking yards of pencil lead, and rubbing my red-rimmed eyes. Sometimes I even pump my fist when I say it.


Flashback to a discussion I had a week ago with a group of single, actively-dating women (you know who you are) who insisted one of the reasons they really wanted to get married was for tax purposes. I threw my head back and laughed. They looked at me seriously and insisted it’s true. I’m still not sure I believe them because when I pressed them to tell me what tax benefits they thought marriage would bring – they turned the discussion to the delicious frittata we were eating. It was tasty. You can’t go wrong with sundried tomatoes, fresh basil and caramelized onions. Seriously though, if they really want to get married for tax purposes, they should be dating more accountants. Bah-dum-bum!

Marriage definitely has it’s non-romantic benefits: I get my insurance through Jim. This is great because I no longer have coverage through my job and with my pre-existing health issues, it’d be too expensive to buy my own. I’m lucky.

Also, our combined credit scores helped us purchase our first condo. This probably wouldn’t have happened if I was left to my own devices. In truth, I would never have applied for a home loan if Jim wasn’t suddenly gung-ho about home ownership. I was pretty happy as a happy-go-lucky renter. But Jim wanted to go for it. I’m not saying this is because he was turning 40 and felt like he should own his own place by a certain age, but I’m just going to insinuate it in a really obvious manner and let everyone make their own judgment.

And honestly, I think it’s WAY easier to share household duties with another person. It is a lot of work to be single, isn’t it? I’m not gonna lie: I don’t know how I got everything done around my home up until August 3, 2003 A.J. (After Jim) Yes, marriage is work – maintaining a relationship takes energy. It’s humbling and it’s challenging. It can be heart wrenching and painful and unpredictable. But, hey, I don’t have to scoop the cat poop out of the litter box and that’s really, really nice. Now if only Jim could do something about the Feds for me…

But even knowing how much easier it is to have Jim’s help around the house, to think that some gals get married for the benefits leaves me cold. I don’t think I could have done it. I respect their choice of course, but I wouldn’t have been able to select a husband due to his promise as a provider or genetic donor. Of course, I didn’t have a strong urge to quiet my quickly ticking biological clock either, so it could have made a huge difference if I wanted kiddos.

Maybe the business of marriage is far more important that I ever realized. School me, ladies.
-Robyn Okrant

9 Responsesto “Where are all these marriage tax breaks I keep hearing about?”

  1. cathleen carr says:

    I love your angry post! It’s a post that can only be written in the 11th hour of tax hell. Tell it! Go on! Hell, yeah!
    ps, I don’t believe our marriage saved us any this tax season either. FEDS!

  2. This year, being married is costing me MORE! Because we are both working full time jobs and my hubby got a modest increase in 2009, which pushed us into a new tax bracket, and I didn’t think to change our withholdings accordingly! DOH! There goes our savings. :-P But I can deal with some unexpected taxes. I would marry him all over again in a heartbeat.

  3. Kate says:

    For the disgruntled moments whichever you’re not at the time is easier.

    Or for the more well balanced times, it’s whichever you’ve worked to accept and embrace.

  4. Amelia says:

    laughed at the notation–I too have labeled my husband’s life B.A.(Before Amelia) and mine B.M.D.(Before Mark D) because no one wants to have a time in their life mistaken for Bowel Movement. I feel that life is very much yin-yang where people we love helps us and vice versa!

  5. Lane says:

    …. and why are you doing your own taxes? It’s worth the expense ($40-80, depends on how complicated it is and where you go). It’s less likely you will make mistakes and it’s less likely you’ll be audited, and if you are and “feds” say that you owe money, the tax professionals can verify everything, and when you consult it can turn out that you don’t really own anything. You can save thousands of dollars by both having someone do your taxes, and getting help when you are audited. No I’m not a tax professional, I just don’t do my own taxes. Just like yearly teeth cleaning (fortunately I don’t need more), having my tax forms done by a professional is something worth paying for.

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