Friday, July 25, 2014

Oversimplified Accounting For The Engaged

A couple of years ago, one of my friends got married. It was a beautiful wedding because these two people are so incredibly in love. It exudes.

A few months after that November wedding, I got an angry text from my friend. Since they were married in the previous year, they had to file their taxes as a married couple. It turns out, that meant a drastic change in their tax return. Rather than getting a refund, as they had in the past, they had to pay.

Fast forward to today. Since I've gotten engaged and started planning our January wedding, people have told me to have a December wedding so we can enjoy the tax benefits. Huh?

After hearing conflicting information for about a month I finally made an appointment with my accountant. I took our pay information so he could give me a final answer: Will we be likely to pay more or are we safe to expect a return?

I learned that every situation is different. He told me that there are tax breaks for couples who get married when there's a stay at home spouse, for instance. But Will and I are both earners so we would actually have ended up paying up if we had gotten married at the end of the year.

I'm no tax expert. At all. But I do advise you to see how marriage will impact your taxes for your own sanity. My friend and her husband had a road bump in their first six months of marriage because of taxes. They were fine in the end, but it was a very stressful realization in the moment.

Since money is the number one reason couples fight, I think it's good to not only look over things like taxes while you're engaged but also to talk about personal finance. As far as taxes go, it'd be easier to know you're going to pay in and save accordingly than to be faced with that surprise.

Talking about personal finance is a beast in itself. I have another friend who didn't realize her fiance was in credit card debt until they started marriage counseling. That's also a tough surprise. (You really learn a lot about how to handle these things when you're the last single friend.)

Will and I watched the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University series together. We outlined our personal debt and monthly budgets so we could understand the other person's situation and money philosophy. It's obvious now that he's going to be the saver, and I'm going to be the spreadsheet nerd who bugs her accountant with questions. :) I'm so glad we have taken the time to understand how we want to move forward together.

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