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Claiming Head of Household Filing Status
Financial Benefits of Marriage vs. As this study shows, getting married has risks as well as benefits. Furthermore, there are many factors that play a role in how marriage affects your finances. Married couples, he points out, can save money by sharing household expenses and household duties. However, being married carries some financial costs as well. The tax laws that benefit some couples result in a penalty for others. Wedding Debt Many couples start off married life with a huge one-time expense: More troubling still is that many couples go into debt to pay for their big day. Getting married changes a lot of things about your living situation, from household chores to leisure time. However, not all couples actually pay this penalty. However, in some cases, the marriage penalty can hit low-income couples hard. These include the following: However, any money you leave directly to your legal spouse is exempt from this tax. Some people try to get around the estate tax by giving large sums of cash to relatives before they die. You can give your spouse any sum of money — or other valuable items, such as jewelry — without paying tax on it. This gives them more options to choose the doctors they prefer or to save money on premiums. Retirement Benefits Married couples have more options when it comes to retirement benefits, as well. Married couples have many more options for collecting Social Security benefits. You can also choose to delay your own benefits to increase the payout and take the spousal benefit in the meantime. Even a nonworking spouse who has never contributed to Social Security at all can still collect spousal benefits. Jay Zagorsky, the author of the study, says this could happen because many couples separate first before they officially divorce, taking on the additional cost of maintaining separate households. The impact of divorce continues long after a couple splits up. Today, by contrast, more than one-third of all children live with just one parent. Having children is a financial game-changer for both single and married people. Mothers are more likely than fathers to take on this role. Some parents choose to adjust their schedules so that one of them is always at home with the kids. Split-shift parenting means both parents get to spend time with their children, but it leaves them very little time to spend with each other, which can put a strain on the marriage. Fortunately, there are some exceptions to this rule. For starters, parents can claim personal exemptions for their kids, as well as for themselves. The Child Tax Credit. This is a case in which single parents actually benefit from their single status. However, if they got married to each other, this two-income, two-child family would get no Child Tax Credit at all. Having a child also increases the amount you can get from the EITC. These numbers are the same for single and married parents. Having kids makes it easier to qualify for the EITC as well. So as you can see, this is a case where the marriage penalty deals a big blow to married couples. Tax Filing Status All the tax credits listed above are available both for couples who file joint returns and for single parents who file as head of household. Parents who file as head of household have lower tax rates than other single people, and they can also take a higher standard deduction. The situation with the standard deduction is the same. Single people can get them too, by sharing a home with a roommate , a family member, or a significant other. Sharing a household is one of the best ways for single people to close the wealth gap and start saving early for big expenses down the road. Housing costs are a good example. If one person cooks dinner, the other can do the dishes; if one does the laundry, the other can clean the bathroom. People who live alone also pay for services in ways that are less obvious. If you share your home, you can ask your partner or your roommate to take over the cooking for you until your work crisis is over. As it happens, this advice also works the other way around. So anything you can do to keep your marriage financially sound can also help you avoid a costly divorce. A study at Emory University shows that the more couples spend on their engagement ring and wedding ceremony , the shorter their marriage is likely to be. Married couples get lots of perks for taxes and health and retirement benefits, so make the most of them. And as you near retirement age, look into your options for collecting Social Security to get the most out of your combined benefits. Talking regularly and openly about your finances will strengthen not only your bank balance, but your whole marriage. Savings Tips for Singles For single people, the easiest way to save money is to find someone to share living expenses with. By sharing a home, you can save on everything from rent, to phone bills, to groceries. You can also share household chores, leaving both of you more time to work and earn money. Of course, this only works if you actually do your own household chores, including cooking. To keep this expense under control, try some inexpensive alternatives to dinner and a movie. Cheap date ideas include art museums, community events, a movie night or game night at home, or just a romantic walk in the moonlight. Newlyweds interviewed by LearnVest say their partners have a big influence on their approach to spending. By taking the time to talk about your financial needs and goals, you can keep your marriage, as well as your finances, strong. Which do you think is easier on your wallet — being married or being single?
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