The National Directory of Certified Public Accountants

Ask A CPA - Divorce & Marriage Issues

What Is The Marriage Penalty ?

When both spouses are income earners, the tax they pay when they file a joint return is usually greater than the tax they would pay separately if they were still single. This is referred to as the marriage penalty. When you are married you cannot choose to file as single. You must file either jointly with your spouse, or file "married, filing separately". Filing separately from your spouse is usually even more costly.

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