Most people have a misconception that married couples have to pay higher taxes than the single tax payer. What they fail to realize is that there are many instances where you get a marriage bonus if you know the right details of tax returns.

Marriage penalty

Marriage penalty means that a married couple pays more income tax than they would have to if they remained single. When you combine incomes on a joint return, some of that income can push you into a higher tax bracket than you would be in if filing as single. In recent years, Congress has made large strides toward alleviating the marriage penalty. The top of the 10% and 15% tax brackets on joint returns are now precisely twice as high as the ceilings on single returns.

Marriage Bonus

Marriage Bonus means that married couples often pay less income tax than they would if each partner were single. This is because of the graduated nature of the tax rates, which applies higher tax rates to higher income rates. As higher incomes fall into higher tax brackets, the breakpoints on a joint return aren’t quite double the level on a single return. If the spouses’ incomes are unequal, it is possible that combining them on a joint return will pull some of the higher-earner’s income into a lower tax bracket. That’s where much of the marriage bonus comes from when one spouse often makes much more income than the other.

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