10 Same-sex Marriage Tax Filing Tips

Beware the Marriage Penalty
Newlywed couples can experience sticker shock over more than just the price of the tuxes (and everything else in the ceremony). Your combined income may put you in a new tax bracket. govicinity/iStockphoto/ThinkStock

A Supreme Court decision that resulted in federal recognition of same-sex couples ushered in a new era of tax advantages and, for the first time, required legally married same-sex couples to file federal income taxes as married.

The requirement for married same-sex couples to file federal taxes together was an about-face from previous years; previously, these same couples were required to file federal taxes separately. This was the case even if same-sex couples were legally married according to state law.

This federal equality for married same-sex couples was, for many, a leap ahead. However, it also made them vulnerable to a costly tax situation known as the "marriage penalty."

For some, this caused some "sticker shock" because it also meant paying significantly higher taxes. The combined incomes of a same-sex couple filing as married often placed them in a higher tax bracket. For example, a couple that earned a combined $150,000 a year would be taxed at 28 percent, when just a year earlier they had filed singly and were taxed in the 25 percent bracket [source: Lavery].

There's not really a way around the increase in taxes that sometimes comes with filing as married, but a variety of other tax breaks may help offset the cost.