Beware the Marriage Penalty
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.