The rights of married couples have recently been extended in many states, including Illinois, to include gay couples. Illinois now officially recognizes gay marriage under the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.
But while this is a boon for equality, newly married gay couples still need time to adjust psychologically to the idea of being married, and there are also many practical adjustments that need to be made. There may be a variety of legal documents they must sign, such as paperwork to legally change one spouse’s last name to that of the other spouse. Other decisions that need to be made must be done either jointly or separately, such as deciding to merge financial accounts, buying a home, including one spouse on the others health insurance and, of course, whether or not to file their tax returns separately or jointly.
Filing Taxes in Illinois
Filing Taxes may be a source of stress even for the individual taxpayer. Once married, however, it becomes a joint decision the couple will need to make together going forward. Starting in April 2014, same-sex couples can file joint federal tax returns for the first time. When a couple is deciding whether or not to file taxes separately or jointly, there are many things the couple should consider.
Are your incomes about the same?
If one spouse earns a lot less money than the other one, it may be better to file separately. This may keep each of the spouses in a lower tax bracket. This is important when the couple is figuring out what personal expenses can be deductible.
Do you both have high incomes?
The new combined threshold is $450,000. If filing together pushes you over that threshold, then you may end paying a significantly higher amount in taxes.
Is one spouse keeping anything secret from the other?
Make sure you trust that your spouse is not keeping any financial secrets. If spouses file separately, the IRS will not hold a spouse legally accountable for errors or intentional fraud on the other's return. If spouses file jointly, the IRS has a legal right to come after either spouse when collecting taxes on anything filed together.
Are you headed for divorce?
Divorcing couples who do not have a signed decree before December 31 of that tax year may want to consider filing separately as a good business decision. It will be one less thing you will have to worry about if you already feel the marriage is on shaky grounds.
If you have any questions about your rights and responsibilities when you decide to get married in Illinois, please do not hesitate to contact an experienced family law attorney in your area. We serve clients in Naperville, Wheaton, and the surrounding areas, and we can assist you with all of your legal concerns.