– By Renee Marinez
When considering the idea of same sex marriage from a financial standpoint there are several possibilities that one should consider. Depending on the scenario, a couple may be positively or negatively impacted. Some of the possible negative consequences are income taxes, government benefits, and divorce. Income taxes can be lowered if one spouse earns significantly more than the other. Couples with equal earnings can face a higher tax bill, and if they are bringing home $180,000 combined, they will be taxed at a top rate of 33% opposed to bringing home $90,000 as two single people with a top rate of 28%. As incomes increase, this negative impact becomes greater. Government benefits may be reduced if they get married. Marriage boosts household income, which may make couples ineligible for financial aid, and will increase the possibility of student loans. In addition, Medicaid is a government health insurance program designed to assist financially troubled elderly citizens pay for long-term care expenses. Older financially troubled couples may want to consider if they should stay “single” in order to qualify for Medicaid without bankrupting their partner. Divorce is an event that may only benefit the financially weaker partner in the break up.
On the bright side, there are several positive repercussions of marriage. They include retirement benefits, lower income taxes, estate and gift taxes, property ownership, parenthood, immigration, and health care. When planning for retirement married people can share retirement funds and social security benefits. If one spouse predeceases the other, the remaining spouse can inherit pension payments, have the 401(k) roll over, or inherit social security survivor benefits. As previously stated, marriage can lower a couple’s income tax burden if the earnings are significantly different. Married couples can share money, possessions, and property more easily. If one spouse predeceases the other, the remaining spouse can inherit everything and not pay taxes, and one can give more than $14,000 to their spouse in a year without needing to file for a gift tax return. Property ownership can be improved with marriage by preventing the remaining spouse from losing their home if their spouse dies without the proper will. Parenthood is improved because married couples no longer have to legally adopt a child that was born to their partner. If considering overseas adoption, they may want to remain single for the time being because some foreign officials still discriminate against same-sex couples. Immigration is resolved by marriage since the spouse that is a U.S. citizen can get their foreign spouses green cards, and allow them to live and work in the United States. Finally, married couples can benefit from their spouse’s health insurance, and in some cases can get dental and supplemental life insurance from the employer too. Married couples can cover each other’s health expenses through health savings accounts, and automatically get the right to visit their spouse in the hospital and make medical decisions on their behalf.