Getting married means a lot of excitement and big changes for you and your partner. For most people, marriage entails a lot of benefits not available to single people. You not only get plenty of wedding gifts and a chance to start a new life, but you also get a good deal of tax benefits when it is time to file your returns. If you file jointly, one automatic benefit is less paperwork, since you file one return for two people.
If you're one of the two-thirds of taxpayers who claims the standard deduction, filing a joint return means you get to claim double the deduction that single people do. Even if your spouse doesn't work, and you have the same income you did as a single person, you get to deduct $11,900 from your taxable income as of 2012, compared to the $5,950 allowed for single people. Plus, when you file a joint return, you get to claim an exemption for both you and your spouse.
IRA Without the Job
Usually, if you want to contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA for the year, you need to have earned income. But, if you are married, your spouse's income counts as your own. That means you can contribute up to $5,000 of your spouse's income to your IRA. If you contribute to a traditional IRA, you'll also get to deduct what you contribute, lowering your tax bill.
Estate Tax Deduction
When a person dies, his estate is potentially taxed at hair-raising rates. But, if that person dies and leaves everything to his spouse, the estate is exempt from tax, up to $5,124,000, as of 2012. The hefty exemption isn't set to last forever, though. At time of publication, it's set to drop to $1 million in 2013. Plus, in 2013, the highest estate-tax rate will jump to 55 percent, compared to the 35 percent it's at right now.
Unequal incomes can mean a tax benefit when you get married. If your spouse earns less than you do, his lower income can pull you both into a lower tax bracket. The flip side is also true, though. If you earn about the same amount, combining your incomes might push you into a higher bracket, especially if one or both of you have high incomes.