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If a married couple has two fairly high-earners, are they going to get clobbered with the new 2013 tax rates? If I read the new rates correctly here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_bracket#2013_tax_brackets_u...

then I think my wife and I are going to be caught.

Say that in 2013 one of us makes $250K and the other makes $350K. I used the above tax brackets and did some simple calculations ignoring deductions, etc, and determined that we would pay about $19,000 more in taxes being married that filing as two singles.

Ouch. Tell me this is not the case. Married life is good and all, but $20,000! If we file separately can we avoid the penalty? Is divorce the answer? ("Honey, lets get a divorce and celebrate with lavish vacation!")

Samuel Clemens
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Yep, the marriage penalty is starting to come back.

And yes, the only way around it is to get a divorce. Filing separately will not help, and often makes things worse. (Unless you live in Ohio, where the decrease in state income taxes by filing separately can easily be larger than the increase in Federal income taxes.)

--Peter
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the only way around it is to get a divorce

Over 20 years ago, IIRC, a couple of friends of mine (couple is rignt: married to each other and having two kids), both with Ph.D.s in physics, so they were presumably quite intelligent, and I believe they were, figured out that it really would be a lot cheaper for them to get a divorce. They figured they would still live together, since they loved each other and all.

But she just could not bring herself to do it.

I do not know if they could get a divorce near the end of the year, get a nice vacation on the Caribbean with some of the savings, and get married again on Valentine's day. And do it each year. Since the divorce would be uncontested, it might be relatively inexpensive. They did have access to a good lawyer, so maybe he advised against trying it.
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Over 20 years ago, IIRC, a couple of friends of mine (couple is rignt: married to each other and having two kids), both with Ph.D.s in physics, so they were presumably quite intelligent, and I believe they were, figured out that it really would be a lot cheaper for them to get a divorce. They figured they would still live together, since they loved each other and all.

At that seminar I was at on Thursday, they also mentioned a few airline pilots and their spouses getting divorced, but staying together.

This was when airlines were going bankrupt left and right. (OK - that doesn't nail down a time frame, does it? It was when Delta and a couple others went BK most recently.) Most of the pilots' pension was invested in company stock. If the companies went BK, the stock would become worthless and the pilots' pension liabilities would be transferred to the PBGC. The PBGC has a pretty low maximum pension they insure. So there's a lot of money at stake. The pilots couldn't get to their pensions unless they quit. They might be able to get a job at another airline, but they'd lose all of their seniority and probably have to take a significant pay cut.

So before their airlines went BK, some pilots got a divorce. As part of the divorce property settlement, the pilots agreed to give their entire pension benefits to their ex-spouses. The various divorce courts granted the spouses a QDRO, allowing the spouse to withdraw the current pension without penalty. And they could roll that over into an IRA if they so chose.

Viola! All of the money out of the pension. And no more exposure to losses due to the airline's bankruptcy.

Apparently, often their friends and family were unaware of the divorce. I guess only their hairdresser ... er ... tax preparer knows for sure. ;-)

--Peter
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Thanks for the quick responses.

All I can say is Wow. This is ridiculous. I cannot actually believe that I am considering divorce for tax reasons.

But I do anticipate our incomes to be around the same range ($350/$250) for the next five years or so, and some years it will likely be higher (we have some in-the-money stock options vesting which we were anticipating exercising). So if the tax difference is $20K+ a year, over the next 5 years that is $100K or so. I can do a lot with that amount of money. You know, like put a kid through college.

Just to add some color to the discussion. My wife and I are in our upper 40s. We met in college and will be married 24 years. We have three children, two in college and one in high school. We are very happily married. We are both in technical fields. Our jobs pay well but are both challenging and the situations somewhat volatile. That is, while I expect us to be similarly employed in five years, I would not be awfully surprised if one of us was out of work either (become fed up and walk, or company politics forces a change, for example). We live modestly compared to our means and have considerable savings. I don't think any of our friends and only a couple of family members know what we earn. We have a living trust. We were discussing retiring at 55 or so. We live in California.

So should I be speaking to a lawyer about the possibility of a quiet divorce, and setting up a trust instead? No one would need to know. What do gay couples do? I cannot believe that I am considering this. When we got married I had to sell my car to buy the engagement ring.

Samuel Clemens
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So should I be speaking to a lawyer about the possibility of a quiet divorce, and setting up a trust instead? No one would need to know.

Well, since your wedding vows evidently were a hoax, I see no reason not to. But why be pikers? Since the whole marriage is evidently a fraud, try for annulment. If you're successful you could amend your open years to file as single.

Sheesh! And they say gay people threaten the institution.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool
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So should I be speaking to a lawyer about the possibility of a quiet divorce, and setting up a trust instead? No one would need to know. What do gay couples do? I cannot believe that I am considering this.

Yes, you would need to talk to a lawyer about all the repercussions of a legal divorce and how to deal with them. One that comes to mind is legally making each other medical proxy in case of incapacitation. Also, what will the impact be on estate taxes if one of you passes away and are not entitled to spousal transfer of assets without taxation?

Additionally, you would need to figure out how to address this with your children. What kind of example to you want to set for them? I am not making judgements here, and I think you pose interesting questions, but these are also issues you need to think deeply about how they will be perceived. Will you tell your kids about the "divorce," or simply carry on as though nothing were changed? Would this constitute fraud in the eyes of the law, since you are essentially divorcing solely to avoid paying taxes? It would not be hard to prove with this internet trail.

FWIW,

IP
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Ouch. Tell me this is not the case. Married life is good and all, but $20,000! If we file separately can we avoid the penalty? Is divorce the answer? ("Honey, lets get a divorce and celebrate with lavish vacation!")

Samuel Clemens




Divorce works.
Been there. Done that.
Don't regret it.

AM
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But I do anticipate our incomes to be around the same range ($350/$250) for the next five years or so,


On the other hand.... good god, man. You can afford the extra $20K.
What are you whining about?

AM
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Our jobs pay well but are both challenging and the situations somewhat volatile. That is, while I expect us to be similarly employed in five years, I would not be awfully surprised if one of us was out of work either (become fed up and walk, or company politics forces a change, for example).

Problem solved, then. The marriage penalty doesn't apply when one spouse's income is minimal.

YG
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The marriage penalty doesn't apply when one spouse's income is minimal.


This is where my mind went. Plus you get the flip side situation: The high earning spouse gets a significant tax break when compared to what his/her tax liability would be as a Single filer.
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This is where my mind went. Plus you get the flip side situation: The high earning spouse gets a significant tax break when compared to what his/her tax liability would be as a Single filer.

The good news/bad news of having a retired husband. Our taxes will be significantly lower for 2012, but so is our income. Since our state income taxes will drop by more than half, maybe no AMT either.
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Yes, you would need to talk to a lawyer about all the repercussions of a legal divorce and how to deal with them. One that comes to mind is legally making each other medical proxy in case of incapacitation. Also, what will the impact be on estate taxes if one of you passes away and are not entitled to spousal transfer of assets without taxation?

This is definitely something I would have to research. My thinking was that I could possibly set up a situation in a similar way that a gay couple must set up matters -- that is, affording the legal protections of a couple without the actual marriage. How effectively can the legal protections of marriage be simulated with a trust?

Additionally, you would need to figure out how to address this with your children. What kind of example to you want to set for them? I am not making judgements here, and I think you pose interesting questions, but these are also issues you need to think deeply about how they will be perceived. Will you tell your kids about the "divorce," or simply carry on as though nothing were changed?

I would tell the children. In fact, I've already told them its being considered. I wouldn't do it without replacing it with legal documents in place which would replicate the present financial arrangement (shared everything), assuming that is possible. That is what I need to find out.

Would this constitute fraud in the eyes of the law, since you are essentially divorcing solely to avoid paying taxes? It would not be hard to prove with this internet trail.

I don't think it would be fraud (but please correct me). If it were, then I would not do it.

But, I do not think it is even in a grey area. I read some IRS publications (pub. 501) and they say your marital status for the year is defined by your legal marital status on the last day of the year. However, if you divorce for the sole purpose of paying single taxes, and then marry the following year, then you must file as married for both years. My reading of this is that I cannot divorce on Dec 31 and then remarry on Jan 1 to avoid the taxes, but nothing prohibits a permanent divorce to avoid taxes. Am I misinterpreting?

Another poster, Angel May, suggested that we could afford the extra $20K per year. Of course we can afford it. I could afford to drive more expensive cars, live in a high end neighborhood, and send my kids to private school, but I don't do those things either. It is more important to us to save the income, have more financial security and retire earlier. (And I think it is harmful to the kids to bring them up in that way, but that's a whole other discussion.)

I manage our investments. Here I am presented with a course of action that I estimate will yield more than $100K over the next 5 years. Say I take a week of vacation off work and meet with a lawyer to set this up. Say it costs $10K to set up. $10K and a week's worth of vacation burned to earn $100K. Don't I owe it to my family to provide for the extra level of financial security? My wife and I would likely draw down about $100K per year in retirement. Thus the extra savings would mean we could retire a year earlier than planned. I can tell you that an extra year of not working sounds pretty good to me.

Yes I understand there are social implications with not being married. But at what price? The government sets tax policy to shape behavior all the time. I can get a tax break for buying an electric car, for instance. In this case, the tax law is telling dual high earners that they are better off single -- and the difference is pretty large. At what point do the "pros" of marriage (social benefits, legal benefits which cannot be replicated) outweigh the "cons" (marriage penalty, cost of setting up alternative arrangement). At a few thousand dollars I wouldn't consider it, but this is more than a $100K.

As for what would we tell people, I would certainly tell my children and show them the legal documents set in place. I would want them to have full understanding. And I would probably tell the one family member who is an executor of our will. But other than that, why should anyone else need to know? It is not that I would be ashamed of the arrangement, but it would lead to the discussion of why we did it, an necessarily to how much money we earn. And people react strongly when discussing that (as shown by this thread).

Samuel Clemens
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Another poster, Angel May, suggested that we could afford the extra $20K per year.

Lots of people can afford more, and if they so desire they are always allowed to donate money. I'm sure the Federal Gov't would not turn their nose up at it. I agree with you about thinking outside the box and minimizing your legally required tax burden. People love to get all holier than thou about it. I received quite a bit of flack on another board when I started asking questions about DH and I not divorcing but my setting up residency at our second home to make it possible for Youngest to go to school in that state at resident pricing. That too would save us over $20K/year.

Of course we can afford it. I could afford to drive more expensive cars, live in a high end neighborhood, and send my kids to private school, but I don't do those things either. It is more important to us to save the income, have more financial security and retire earlier. (And I think it is harmful to the kids to bring them up in that way, but that's a whole other discussion.)

Disagree strongly with the bolded part. In fact, we are doing precisely what you are doing, as my parents also did. There is nothing wrong with teaching your kids to live below their means, saving money to accomplish your goals, particularly when it is the goal of leaving the rat race behind and focusing on enjoying each other. However, we are not leaving any of our obligations behind, will pay for their undergrad degree and always be there for them if they need us. I would point you to the Retire Early Camp Fire board for that discussion, but it has become so political that I rarely go there anymore.

IP,
who would venture that we are kindred spirits if it were not for the fact that I could never come to like your books ;-)
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Another poster, Angel May, suggested that we could afford the extra $20K per year. Of course we can afford it. I could afford to drive more expensive cars, live in a high end neighborhood, and send my kids to private school, but I don't do those things either. It is more important to us to save the income, have more financial security and retire earlier. (And I think it is harmful to the kids to bring them up in that way, but that's a whole other discussion.)



To be fair, I have to tell you that there were other reasons than just higher taxes that we got divorced. This was back in the early 80's and I had graduated from university (as a divorced-from-first-husband adult - not the usual college kid) and had managed to get a good job. My husband was still paying off debts that his first wife had run up. In other words, we were only a couple of paychecks away from penniless.

In addition, I wanted credit in my own name and so I requested the credit only to be told that I already had credit because my name was on my husband's card. So, in reality, I had no credit and they were blowing smoke up my arse. I got angry.

We calculated the marriage penalty and saw that we would be paying an unfair price to the government just for the privilege of being married. Brothers and sisters can live together and share the bills, etc. - just like married people - but their salaries are not stacked on top of each other to reach those higher brackets. Same for roommates. This just struck us as very unfair.

In our case, we weren't making together what one of you is making now.

So we got divorced. I got my credit in my own name - and my credit is now above 800 so I guess I was a good risk after all.

We stayed divorced for many years. We never kept it secret. But we never announced it, either. How many people go around announcing that, by the way, they are still married? Mostly, the only time it came up was when someone asked us how long we had been married. Then we would laugh and explain that we had been together X years but had only been married Y of those years. And we would make it clear that we were not currently married. Our parents never asked. We never told.

We remarried after I retired.

But I have to tell you also that there were no children involved. When you have children it's important that you are careful what you teach them. Frankly, I think you are not setting a very good example for these children by what you are doing. You are well able to afford a decent home and everything needed for a comfortable life - AND pay the government for the value you receive from it.

I agree that a marriage penalty is extremely unfair. I think each person who receives a salary for work performed should pay taxes on that salary without regard to who they live with or what those living arrangements might be. But that's not the way it is.

AND ... if I was making the amount of money you say you and your wife are bringing in at the moment, I wouldn't bat an eyelash at paying my taxes - unfair or not. That $20K wouldn't even make a dent.

Apparently, this country has been pretty good to you. You should pay your taxes and set a good example for your children - and be grateful for the roads and schools, etc., provided to you through those tax dollars. You could also mention to your children that those tax dollars help other, poorer families, to educate their children, too.

AM
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We calculated the marriage penalty and saw that we would be paying an unfair price to the government just for the privilege of being married.

How is this different from what the other poster is doing?

It sounds like you did exactly what the other poster is thinking of doing or am I missing something.
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How is this different from what the other poster is doing?

It sounds like you did exactly what the other poster is thinking of doing or am I missing something.

------------


I thought I explained that pretty clearly. We desperately needed that extra $$$. This couple does not. I wanted credit in my own name and being single was, at the time, the only way I could see to get it. We did not have children. This couple does. The presence of children makes a HUGE difference.

I'm not saying that what we did was necessarily the right thing to do. And in that sense, it isn't any different from what this couple is contemplating.

But I believe this couple will regret it if they do it. They may not, but I believe they will. They have plenty of money. They are not hurting. They can afford the taxes. And bringing up their children with good character is very important.

It's just my opinion. I don't claim to be the final expert here on anything. And they will do whatever they decide to do without regard, really, to what any of us tell them.

But I did think maybe they could hear from someone else on the matter.
The decision is theirs.

AM, not perfect.
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We did not have children. This couple does. The presence of children makes a HUGE difference.

Not so much at their age, particularly since they are talking about a civil dissolution, not an annulment that pretends the marriage never happened. So what does it teach the kids? To look at the law and find legal ways to accomplish their goals, even when those ways are not conventional. It teaches them to think for themselves.

Where the difficulty arises for me would be the intent of the law vs the letter of the law. Is taxation an accepted reason to legally dissolve a successful marriage and go back to the state of living out of wedlock, or will they have to lie about why they are divorcing? Do you really want to teach the kids through your example that it is OK to lie, as long as you profit from it? How would the parents feel if their kids started living with someone, feeling that marriage was not important? I think that SC needs to sit and discuss how they would like their children to live out their adult lives and their view of marriage, because it does imply that it is not that important to be legally wed.

It is theoretically interesting, but messy.


But I did think maybe they could hear from someone else on the matter.

Counter points provide balance to a discussion. You are very much entitled to your opinion.

IP
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Is taxation an accepted reason to legally dissolve a successful marriage and go back to the state of living out of wedlock, or will they have to lie about why they are divorcing?

AFAIK "no fault" divorce is now the norm. If there are no minor children and the spouses agree to a property settlement the law doesn't care why they're divorcing. Heck, in California, always on the cutting edge, they moved on to "no marriage" divorce with the concept of palimony years ago. There has been some talk in some states of introducing "covenant" marriages, in which couples could choose unions that aren't easily dissolved or stick with the "until something better comes along" version now used. Don't know that it's gone anywhere.

When the thrice married Bob Barr (R-GA) introduced the Defense of Marriage Act in panicked response to the possiblity that same-sex marriage might become the law in Hawaii I was dying to ask which of his marriages he was defending. I also wonder why people who are so dedicated to making sure gay people can't get married because of the sanctity of the institution aren't trying to do something about drive-through divorce.

Besides, messy divorce cases were always such fun. Witness the "Reno-vation" of Mary Haines in Clarie Booth Luce's The Women. Without it we'd never have met the Countess. L'amour. L'amour.

OP seems to understand that marriage is much more than a piece of paper, to wit the reams of legal documents it takes to reach roughly the same status as marriage while, as we so quaintly used to call it, living in sin. While at the lawyer's they'll also need to check up on potential legal potholes awaiting their future arrangement. "No one needs to know" is how I think he put it in the OP. Careful here. If you hold yourselves out as married in a common law marriage state you're married with or without a piece of paper. And as long as you're not a same-sex couple, Federal law recognizes that one. On a different front, in Illinois if you live together "openly and notoriously" without benefit of clergy you're guilty of fornication.

Of course all this pertains only to the civil aspects of marriage. Religious institutions maintain their own requirements and procedures.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool
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My thinking was that I could possibly set up a situation in a similar way that a gay couple must set up matters -- that is, affording the legal protections of a couple without the actual marriage.

There are a couple of sticky issues that often can't be replicated.

One important one is health care issues. You can typically cover your spouse on a health insurance plan through your work. But getting health insurance for a non-spouse partner can be tougher. Of course, this might not be an issue if you each have separate insurance through your respective jobs. If your children are still dependents (I don't recall you mentioning their ages if you did), you'll have to decide on whose plan to cover them.

Making health care decisions for each other when you are not married is a tougher situation. Once divorced, you would not be able to make decisions for the other partner when that person could not make decisions for themselves. That responsibility would likely fall to your children as the closest relatives. A health care power of attorney is a potential work-around, but it is far from perfect. That would be an issue to raise with an attorney.

Naturally, I'd expect that you'd run some more exact numbers on the tax savings. You mentioned that you just did some rough estimates. Some better projections are in order. One sticky issue might be allocating the deductions for your house - the mortgage interest and taxes. And don't forget to consider your state taxes as well. There may be either a savings or a cost from the divorce. Make sure you consider the impact of AMT. It can have a significant impact on your taxes.

--Peter
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Once divorced, you would not be able to make decisions for the other partner when that person could not make decisions for themselves.

That reminds me of another thing for the "to do" list--retirement accuont beneficiaries. While administering a thrice-divorced friend's estate I learned that one retirement account he had didn't honor ex-spouses as beneficiaries unless the designation had been made after the divorce.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool
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Of course all this pertains only to the civil aspects of marriage. Religious institutions maintain their own requirements and procedures.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool


And unlike civil weddings, priest/pastors/etc have the duty to refuse to marry those they don't feel are prepared for marriage.
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I thought I explained that pretty clearly. We desperately needed that extra $$$. This couple does not. I wanted credit in my own name and being single was, at the time, the only way I could see to get it. We did not have children. This couple does. The presence of children makes a HUGE difference.

I think this veers off topic a bit, but I have to say that I find the above line of reasoning very odd. Especially coming from someone who divorced motivated, at least partially, to avoid the marriage penalty.

I am just searching out the information, but from what I have learned there is nothing illegal in what I am proposing. If there is, then I won't do it. I have never considered divorce. Is "I want to save taxes" not a valid reason for a divorce in California? I have no intent to fake a reason for the divorce we are considering.

In doing the little bit of research I have done, I have run across articles which suggest to high earning couples that are wanting to marry that they live together instead. How is that any different than what I am proposing?

What I really question is how 1) having kids and 2) being able to afford the extra tax alters the argument. What I am proposing it to do some work to get a divorce and set up some kind of trust which would simulate the rights of a married couple. I am going to assume that it is not illegal. The process would likely clean up some issues my wife and I haven't considered before.

Assuming it is not illegal, then how is this different than any other action to save money on my taxes? If I have children or make over a certain amount then it becomes immoral (if not illegal)? I am only supposed to behave morally if I have kids or make over a certain amount?

I went through steps to set up 529 college accounts for my children. It saves money on taxes. Because I could easily afford the tax, should I stop contributing? Similarly we contribute to retirement accounts. Should we stop? Do you think more or less of me because I take advantage of the company's 401k plan?

We deposit money into a health savings account because it saves in taxes? Am I immoral for doing this. How much do I get to make before it becomes immoral, or is it a progressive type thing. Where is the line between good tax planning and us depriving poor families tax money used to educate their children?

I just went shopping with the wife. I could have driven to the Costco in the adjacent county and paid the 1% higher sales tax. Was I immoral in choosing the local Costco? We can afford it.

The tax code is simply that -- code that defines how much you pay. People make maneuvers all the time to reduce their taxes. Doing so is not immoral in my mind. The code encourages and discourages all sorts of behavior. In this case it is discouraging high earning couples from marrying and encouraging married couples to consider divorce. I do not think it is just that an unmarried couple with the same earnings as my wife and I would pay $100k less in taxes over the next five years. Fix the code, I say, but until it is fixed I will consider this route. I admit it is drastic, but the tax savings is large.

To answer some of the other issues brought up in other posts ...

We do not have a mortgage. Religion is not an issue. I did ask my CPA to access our marriage penalty and her answer was slightly higher than what I had estimated (because of state taxes). Our taxes are complicated and passed my ability (or at least desire) to tackle it on my own many years ago. California is not a common law state.

inparadise asked: Is taxation an accepted reason to legally dissolve a successful marriage and go back to the state of living out of wedlock, or will they have to lie about why they are divorcing? Do you really want to teach the kids through your example that it is OK to lie, as long as you profit from it?

That is a good question, but let me be clear. I would never lie to achieve the divorce and am not proposing to do so. The second question doesn't apply.

Samuel Clemens
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Two of my favorite quotes on taxes:

The legal right of a taxpayer to decrease the amount of what otherwise would be his taxes, or altogether avoid them, by means which the law permits, cannot be doubted.

George Sutherland, Supreme Court Justice from 1922 to 1938



In my own case the words of such an act as the Income Tax, for example, merely dance before my eyes in a meaningless procession: cross-reference to cross-reference, exception upon exception – couched in abstract terms that offer no handles to seize hold of – leave in my mind only a confused sense of some vitally important, but successfully concealed, purport, which is my duty to extract, but which is within my power, if at all, only after the most inordinate expenditure of time.

Learned Hand, Judge 2nd circuit court of appeals from 1924 to 1961


My take-aways from these two quotes:
1. Tax law is complicated.
2. It is perfectly legal to arrange one's affairs so as to minimize taxes.


--Peter

PS - One more item to discuss with the lawyers and/or tax advisers. Estate taxes. As two single people, you lose the portability of your exemption between spouses. This is only an issue if your gross estate is over about $5 million. And you'd lose the benefit of an unlimited estate tax exemption on assets left to a spouse.
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I have run across articles which suggest to high earning couples that are wanting to marry that they live together instead. How is that any different than what I am proposing?

They have made no public promises. I wasn't there, so if your wedding vows included an escape clause regarding inconvenient developments in the Internal Revenue Code, my apologies. I've been well served by learning at an early age not to make promises I can't keep, even when said promises place a burden on me I might not have chosen had I foreseen it. And despite your protestations otherwise I think you're sending a terrible message to your children. "Keep your word unless you find a way to game the system."

You're not the dewey eyed couple charting a future. You're not the couple who, despite their best efforts, couldn't make their marriage work. You're the couple who can't be trusted, in my eyes. Putting a price tag on your word only reminds me of the story that ends with something along the line of "We've already established what you are, madam. Now we're just negotiating a price."

I just went shopping with the wife. I could have driven to the Costco in the adjacent county and paid the 1% higher sales tax. Was I immoral in choosing the local Costco? We can afford it.

Ignoring your silliness here I will point out to lurkers that had you driven to the adjacent state, which has a lower or no sales tax, and returned with your goods without paying your state's use tax you would be breaking the law.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool
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Sorry, you can only recommend a post to the Best of once.

Phil, excellent post!

George
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I think that's a little over the top, Phil. Who are the marriage vows to? The spouse. If the spouse agrees that this is the right thing to do, I give the vows a pass. But that's just me, the pragmatic one. ;)
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I received quite a bit of flack on another board when I started asking questions about DH and I not divorcing but my setting up residency at our second home to make it possible for Youngest to go to school in that state at resident pricing. That too would save us over $20K/year.

Any flack you may have received is due to your initial post which had the look of a fraudulent living situation where it appeared you would set up your residency in another state without actually living there most of the time.

PSU
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I think that's a little over the top, Phil. Who are the marriage vows to? The spouse.

Alone? Not at any wedding I've ever attended. My understanding of the presence of the guests has never been that they're just there to provide swag for the happy couple. And then in a church wedding the big G is in the picture, but OP said religion isn't an issue in this couple's situation.

I freely admit that keeping ones word is a hot button item for me. I don't have many, but those I do have are white hot. And in the context of marriage, when I have so many friends who would love to take on the rights and responsibilities of marriage but cannot because of, IMO, bigoted laws, well, Katie, bar the door.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool
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The code encourages and discourages all sorts of behavior. In this case it is discouraging high earning couples from marrying and encouraging married couples to consider divorce. I do not think it is just that an unmarried couple with the same earnings as my wife and I would pay $100k less in taxes over the next five years. Fix the code, I say, but until it is fixed I will consider this route. I admit it is drastic, but the tax savings is large.



one of the experts might know -- but istr tax law prof saying the math is such that you either 'penalize' high two-earner income marrieds
OR
penalize one-earner couples ..
& Congress picked the former
(perhaps thinking they can afford it, perhaps thinking most in Congress are one-earners, perhaps thinking you have to 'pay' for the benefits of marriage .... all that stuff gay couples want, but can't have)

suspect your increase may be less about marriage penalty and more about the end of "Bush-era cuts"
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SamuelClemens,

As food for thought, here's how I think about it and what worked for me.

Marriage has several possible components:
1. a commitment to each other
2. a commitment to the world at large
3. a religious ritual and commitment
4. a contract filed with the state

These are somewhat independent. The first is vitally important, and all the others are rather a sham without it. I lived with my girlfriend for many years as we slowly moved from "this is fun" to "this is for keeps". We moved in with each other, but didn't mingle finances, have kids, or do anything else irrevocable. But eventually we got to the point that we considered ourselves a team and had no intention of changing that.

Then we decided to have kids. We felt the second step was important: a commitment to our friends and the world at large that we were a permanent couple. So we had a wedding. We did the party, the legal officiant, but we didn't do the third and fourth parts. Not being religious, it was easy to ignore that aspect. However we didn't think what we were doing was really any of the state's business either. And so long as there was this big tax penalty, we'd rather not be considered married by the state. So we left out that part. It didn't affect the wedding at all, and whenever anybody asked if we were married (rarely), we'd say "sort of" and explain if needed. On all the official forms we were single.

At some point around the third kid my wife retired. We looked at the legalities and the taxes and decided it made sense to file the license and be considered legally married by the state. We got a couple of friends to witness for us. We didn't have a party, and I don't even remember the date. Our anniversary is the day we had our wedding party, now over twenty years ago.

So I'd say that if you want to adjust your contractual status with the state, there's no reason that need affect anything personal, or indicate that you are breaking faith with each other in any way. Get officially unmarried. Just be clear with each other what it means (i.e. nothing).

But be very careful of legal potholes. What we did, continuing the status quo, was simple. You will be unwinding years of things done with certain assumptions that have changed, so you might be in for some nasty surprises. If I were you, I wouldn't go there. Especially as they're likely to change the rules again when the mood takes them.

-IGU-
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"Who are the marriage vows to? The spouse."

Alone? Not at any wedding I've ever attended. My understanding of the presence of the guests has never been that they're just there to provide swag for the happy couple.


The promises (vows) at every wedding I've attended have been from one spouse to the other.
I don't believe I've *ever* heard either spouse make a promise to the guests.
The guests IMO are there
1> to celebrate the occasion
2> to act as witnesses to the contract

When you examine it as a contract (without the marriage word attached to it), you can see it as an agreement between two people.
And like other contracts between two parties, it can be changed or dissolved if the two parties agree.
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Any flack you may have received is due to your initial post which had the look of a fraudulent living situation where it appeared you would set up your residency in another state without actually living there most of the time.

No, you simply ASSumed it. I stated that I was " looking at the possibility for me to establish residency in VA," not fraudulently establish it.

http://boards.fool.com/split-residency-30425028.aspx

IP
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I stated that I was " looking at the possibility for me to establish residency in VA," not fraudulently establish it.

That's what it sound like to me.

I don't read that board and didn't feel like reading 19 posts, so the following may have been covered. Just for your consideration.

1. What length of time as a resident does VA require?

2. It wasn't clear whether the child in question would also move. If not, does it matter to VA that the child isn't a resident?

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool
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No, you simply ASSumed it. I stated that I was " looking at the possibility for me to establish residency in VA," not fraudulently establish it.

Since you provided the link to the thread in question, you can review it again and see that I did not make any accusations in that thread. That said, my answers were tailored with that assumption in the back of my mind. My responses were aimed to show that you would need to actually move, not just on paper. In reality, I wouldn't expect a mother to move to another state during a kid's senior year in high school and miss everything that happens in his life at that time. So yes, I did make that assumption when you said in your OP that you'd commute back and forth to PA.

PSU
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I don't read that board and didn't feel like reading 19 posts, so the following may have been covered. Just for your consideration.

I suggest you read it. There were a number of good posts laying out the requirements.
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1. What length of time as a resident does VA require?

2. It wasn't clear whether the child in question would also move. If not, does it matter to VA that the child isn't a resident?

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool


Wow, look at that. By asking questions instead of assuming you know the answers you can get to the heart of the matter.

These were exactly the type of issues I was trying to learn in my inquiry, my exploration of the possibility of legally establishing residency in VA while DH and Youngest stayed in PA. I know that I can legally establish VA residency, and in fact we are heading there when Youngest graduates, but would it be enough to accomplish my goal of getting Youngest eligible for VA residency in the eyes of a VA state school.

Instead of a thread exploring this out of the box approach, it became a thread of my defending myself from slams re something I had never said nor had any intention of doing, all because of assumptions rather than asking for clarification.

IF it sounded fraudulent to you, then you jumped to conclusions. While it is not an exhaustive dissertation detailing all the ways in which I would carry this out, (impossible for an inquiry where one is trying to find out what the issues are, evidenced by my question: "Just an idea at this point. Any pitfalls or potential I am not considering?",) my post in no way stated that I would not be living there as a true resident. Perhaps I should not assume that those on TMF are capable of a middle school level reading comprehension.
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There were a number of good posts laying out the requirements.

Oh, I'm sure there were. I often refer people to that board. It's just that this is information I'll never need. Don't want to clutter brain cells that could otherwise be occupied by gin.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool
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In reality, I wouldn't expect a mother to move to another state during a kid's senior year in high school and miss everything that happens in his life at that time. So yes, I did make that assumption...

You imposed your values on my straight forward text, and warped the intent rather than letting my words speak for themselves. Since it was not something you could view being able to do, then I must be looking at pretending to change residence and not actually do it. Sorry, but we are not a "do as we say not as we do" kind of people. As I stated it was the start of an idea. I needed to figure out what is even possible before determining if it is worth the pain. While I don't mind reaching out to others to figure out the legalities of a potential strategy, only my family can decide if it is worth it for us to pursue. There are factors in play that you are not and will not be privy to, that have no bearing on the legality of the issue. Our family decision is one discussion I have no intent to involve the boards in.

As is evidenced by a similar attack to the OP of this thread, thinking outside the box, trying to isolate the legalities from the emotional or conventional, tends to be viewed with a biased eye.

IP
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These were exactly the type of issues I was trying to learn in my inquiry, my exploration of the possibility of legally establishing residency in VA while DH and Youngest stayed in PA. I know that I can legally establish VA residency, and in fact we are heading there when Youngest graduates, but would it be enough to accomplish my goal of getting Youngest eligible for VA residency in the eyes of a VA state school.

I did lay out the requirements for you. You even thanked me for the info.

Instead of a thread exploring this out of the box approach, it became a thread of my defending myself from slams re something I had never said nor had any intention of doing, all because of assumptions rather than asking for clarification.

Please point to one post I made on the thread that slammed you. Your lack of followup will indicate that I didn't say anything of such a nature.

my post in no way stated that I would not be living there as a true resident. Perhaps I should not assume that those on TMF are capable of a middle school level reading comprehension.

"I would commute back and forth to PA and probably not get a job beyond continuing to work on our place."

One can speculate from the above statement that you were going to spend a significant amount of time at your current home, not VA.
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$20K doesn't really even move the needle in what I imagine your savings to be. It's nice and all, but it doesn't seem like that much money to me. Certainly not a reason to divorce a spouse.

I don't get why you would let what seems like a middling amount of savings change a core relationship in your life. Just totally don't get it.
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How effectively can the legal protections of marriage be simulated with a trust?
From what I hear from my gay friends - not completely. There are many areas of holes that cannot be covered by other legal structures. It's not simple, and it doesn't offer the same benefits.
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Please point to one post I made on the thread that slammed you.

This post in this thread. You were unusually restrained on the other.

http://boards.fool.com/i-received-quite-a-bit-of-flack-on-an...

... your initial post which had the look of a fraudulent living situation where it appeared you would set up your residency in another state without actually living there most of the time.

The "fraud" was all in your head, not in my post.
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$20K doesn't really even move the needle in what I imagine your savings to be. It's nice and all, but it doesn't seem like that much money to me. Certainly not a reason to divorce a spouse.

That is $20K PER YEAR, net of taxes and fees. You must be in the Federal Gov't budgetary office if that is not real money to you!


I don't get why you would let what seems like a middling amount of savings change a core relationship in your life.

He wouldn't. It would be a divorce on paper only. Doesn't anyone actually read a post before replying to it anymore?

IP
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$20K doesn't really even move the needle in what I imagine your savings to be. It's nice and all, but it doesn't seem like that much money to me.

I can understand this sentiment. However consider that there are only two ways to save money, increasing income or reducing expenses. Looking at the actual numbers for our 2012 family expenses, here are our top line items: Taxes $223K, Gifts $12K, Groceries $10K, Entertainment $10K, Auto $9K, Home Repair $9K. Thus, $20K is not haircut money. And at our tax rate, we would have to make an additional $40K to replace it.

But yes, our savings our substantial. A single day of trading and our savings can easily vary by $20K or more. But we have achieved this amount of savings by living below our means (comfortably, but below our means). I know we make a lot of money, but also consider that people don't line up to give you this type of salary. It has come with a lot of education, sacrifices, risks taken, responsibilities, and some unique capabilities. Our work environments are intense. The $20K per year savings to me represents a year earlier we could retire. A year spent pursuing hobbies and not doing things like business travel and yearly reviews (as this weekend was partially spent).

And I am only considering it at this point, and there are only two votes who count, both with veto privileges.

Samuel Clemens

Samuel Clemens
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That is $20K PER YEAR, net of taxes and fees. You must be in the Federal Gov't budgetary office if that is not real money to you!
$20K per year is still not a life-changing amount of money. As I said, it's nice and all, but not enough for one to change a marriage over - at least it wouldn't be for me. And no - I'm not in the government, I am self-employed, so I know the value of money. That's maybe 1/2 a project or one project a year for me...I cannot imagine that changing my life in any way.

He wouldn't. It would be a divorce on paper only. Doesn't anyone actually read a post before replying to it anymore?
I read the post. And I know from my gay friends that the "on paper" status has legal implications that matter. It's not as simple as getting to keep all the benefits while just saying you are not married.

To me, none of this makes any sense. But everyone is an individual, and I guess that's what makes life interesting - we all make different decisions.
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It would be a divorce on paper only.

I'm not really sure you can truly have such a thing, or at least I know that I could not. There's a reason that gay people are fighting so hard for the right to marry, and it has to do with all the legal rights and responsibilities that go with marriage. It is not easy or foolproof to set up something similar with trusts and other paperwork. I can imagine, for instance, a relative challenging the paperwork, something that can't be done if it is a marriage. I've seen hospitals and doctors refuse to honor medical POAs, and my limited experience says that seems to happen more often when the POA is for someone who is not a spouse, which is what would happen in this case.

I can see all sorts of other problems from not being able to pass assets to a spouse without estate tax issues since now the assets would be passing to a non-spouse, and as the OP seems to have significant assets derived from that significant salary, this is something that would concern me.

From a purely emotional perspective, I would have a hard time doing this. I can say that even though DH and I lived together for a year and a half prior to marriage, we both agreed that it just felt different, in a good way, after we were married even though we really just added that 'piece of paper' to the equation. I have other friends in similar circumstances who had similar feelings, and undoing that would not be worth the money to me, especially as this is from such a large pile of money to start with.

That said, this is not something I'd do without consulting a lot of professionals, and I'd be inclined to get 2nd opinions on everything. I'd want someone to look at the actual income tax implications, but I'd really be concerned about the estate tax implications and all the other things that go with marriage including medical POA information etc. I'd definitely worry about the effect on the kids, and I'm not convinced that the argument about doing it just for the money is a really good one. I'd be worried that I'd be sending the kids a message that says money is above all else, even the relationship between mom and dad, and that's just not a message I'd like to send.

I guess I'd be worried more about the pitfalls that I miss than anything else, and that's just not worth it to me, even for that $20k, and I make a fraction of the OP.
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Ignoring your silliness here I will point out to lurkers that had you driven to the adjacent state, which has a lower or no sales tax, and returned with your goods without paying your state's use tax you would be breaking the law.

So would you if you went one mile over the speed limit.
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The whole notion of marriage (or divorce) for tax purposes only isn't even that new.

In a 1966 Comedy, "Dear Deductible", Peter Falk and Janet Leigh tried it, at the suggestion of their accountant and matchmaker, Norman Fell.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0528175/

He had written a blockbuster song or book; she had a ranch that was bleeding money all over the place. A short-term marriage followed by a divorce right after New Year's, for which they could still file a joint return, seemed to be in order.

In a condescension to romance, the grand plot didn't quite work out as planned.

Bill
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And I am only considering it at this point, and there are only two votes who count, both with veto privileges.

Hear, hear! Absolutely.

You do not need judgmental people suggesting that your marriage should be continued for the benefit of everyone else but your family; or you should pay more in taxes because you an afford it. Both are morally suspect arguments.

If the practical arrangements like legality of divorcing for taxes, health care power-of-attorney, estate tax, etc work out; go for it.

I have been through a somewhat similar situation and came to appreciate how hard such decisions can be. And I went the opposite way. Specifically, I was (and am) underwater in my home mortgage by a very large amount, having bought it at the exact wrong time. And until HARP 2.0 came along, the government was not willing to help honest homebuyers who had never missed a mortgage payment (but liars and/or idiots who got homes they could not afford, could easily get relief. No doubt some people got duped by unscrupulous lenders and small print, but at least in Southern California, it was clear that most homebuyers knew exactly what they were doing.) Anyway, my choice was to send keys back the bank via "jingle mail" or keep paying my mortgage because I could afford it. In the end, I weighed all pros and cons including my family's and my feelings about breaking the promise made to the bank (who obviously doesn't have emotions and would kick me out in a second if the roles were reversed) and decided to stay put in the mortgage. It literally came down to how much I valued my promise in dollars and cents. It could have easily gone the other way if I earned less or if the mortgage was a lot more. And I would be the same man, morally.

People who pass judgments rarely put themselves in the other person's shoes. Words are cheap, actions speak louder.
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Anyway, my choice was to send keys back the bank via "jingle mail" or keep paying my mortgage because I could afford it. In the end, I weighed all pros and cons including my family's and my feelings about breaking the promise made to the bank (who obviously doesn't have emotions and would kick me out in a second if the roles were reversed)

Well, not just the bank. From my own experience it’s everyone else involved in real estate transactions, including realtors, developers, corporate buyers, etc. The only party that is supposed to weigh any ethical consideration is the individual buyer.

No one else involved in the transaction gives any ethical obligation a thought. In fact, no one else involved pays much attention to any contractual obligation either.

The only consideration is how much they can get away with.
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Be sure you model what happens if each of you is incapacitated or dies. It can definitely change the projections.
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inparadise,

You wrote, Would this constitute fraud in the eyes of the law, since you are essentially divorcing solely to avoid paying taxes?

Is it fraud for following the tax rules? Marriage is not (or is no longer) an absolute. If both parties agree to it, it's simple enough to change a contract or a marriage. In fact, to the logically-minded, it's just another variable you can tweak to adjust taxes.

My girlfriend and I live together and aren't married in part because it would cost us more if we were married. We have considered getting married later in life in order to claim on each other's social security. Is doing so fraud?

All we're doing is making calculated decisions to follow tax and social security rules in order to minimize our costs and maximize our returns. But we're just following the rules the lawmakers made. It's not our fault that they sometimes make stupid laws with stupid consequences. They're the ones that made the rules; if they don't like that the rules encourage divorce, they should fix that.

Admittedly after divorcing my first wife, I have a bias against marriage in general; but I don't see how the OP getting divorced is all that different from my situation... We're just starting from a different bias toward marriage.

BTW having had kids - now grown - I don't think I would hide this from them even if they were little. Usually kids are more clever than parents give them credit for. If you explain it to them, I'm sure they will understand. What should really matter to them is how you treat each other.

Also I cover my girlfriend's healthcare through my current employer. In the past she's covered me. We've switched based on cost. Years ago it was impossible to get coverage for an unmarried partner. Then companies started providing coverage for declared same-sex partners. More recently companies have begun providing coverage for undeclared opposite sex partners. We've been taking advantage of the later for the past 3+ years to help keep our healthcare costs at a minimum.

- Joel
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MarkTwain,

You wrote, Is "I want to save taxes" not a valid reason for a divorce in California? ...

On the Petition for Divorce, you would call it an irreconcilable difference...

- Joel
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I cover my girlfriend's healthcare through my current employer. In the past she's covered me. We've switched based on cost.

This is one of the few places that there are tax "penalties" for not being married. Coverage of an employee's "family" is a tax-exempt fringe benefit. In your case the diffence in premium between covering the employee alone and whatever it is you're paying is taxable wage income, at least at the Federal level. States are free to make the adjustments they deem appropriate.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool
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TMFPMarti,

You wrote, I cover my girlfriend's healthcare through my current employer. In the past she's covered me. We've switched based on cost.

To which you replied, This is one of the few places that there are tax "penalties" for not being married. Coverage of an employee's "family" is a tax-exempt fringe benefit. In your case the diffence in premium between covering the employee alone and whatever it is you're paying is taxable wage income, at least at the Federal level. States are free to make the adjustments they deem appropriate.

Understood. In past years I've worked for a contracting firm. Health benefits were expensive - basically unsubsidized - and benefit caps were so low my employer had to file for waivers with the DOL. I was fairly well paid though - I had a specific skillset their customer needed, so I was paid what I thought was fair. (It's always great to be in a position where you know your employer needs you. :-) When I took that job and we realized just how bad the benefits were, my girlfriend put me on her plan - and I paid her for the after-tax cost. So for 2 years I paid healthcare premiums with after-tax money. It was still a better deal. Even had we broken up, taxable COBRA payments would have been a better deal.

Late last year I took a new, full-time position. Benefits here are excellent and my own costs are nominal. My new employer also provides full benefits for unmarried partners and they actually true-up (add to my paycheck) for the taxes. However, they do charge unmarried employees a fee on each paycheck if that employee's partner is eligible for coverage through their employer. (The fee is assessed only if the employee is unmarried.) Even with this fee, the costs are less and the benefits are arguably better.

- Joel
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On the Petition for Divorce, you would call it an irreconcilable difference...

As in "I cannot reconcile our desire to save $20K on the yearly taxes and the fact that we are married?" That is enough? Is that legal?

Just some background on all of this and an update.

It started when I was driving to work listening to the radio and discussion of the fiscal cliff and the end of the year agreement. They mentioned the marriage penalty would return to high earners, and described exactly our situation. Before this I had not even thought about it. You know, just live, work, and pay taxes.

When I did take a first look it showed that we would have this $20K per year penalty in 2013. But I still did not think it was real, mistakenly thinking that we could just file separately and get the single tax rates. On the second look I started to learn that this was not possible, and this is when I made the original post of this thread. In hindsight, I can see we have paid this marriage penalty for years now -- the new tax brackets made the penalty larger (about double).

Of course I recognize this is simply a public message board, but I think it gives a pretty good vetting of what is an unorthodox strategy. I thank everyone for their responses. Well, most of you anyway. In my mind it has reached the point where I should seek paid advice. I have contacted my CPA for an attorney recommendation.

Believe me "divorce for profit" is not a step we consider lightly. The decision to marry 23 years ago was the best decision of my life. But it is a significant enough amount that I must consider it. Assuming it is not illegal, or even the grey area, then I have not been persuaded that it is immoral. My marriage vows are between my wife and me. Nor have I been persuaded that it is immoral to arrange matters to lessen taxes (no matter how much you make).

There may be another option: Deferring income by one of us. Care to vet this idea?

One of us has the ability to defer our income. The idea would be to defer essentially 100% of one of our incomes, to be paid out over a 15 year time span after termination of employment. It would smear those earnings over fifteen years instead of the next five years or so. That way we would revert to a one-income family and not see the marriage penalty.

There are a couple of immediate problems with this plan though. We have to make the declaration before the fiscal year, which is the calendar year, and we have recently made our declaration for 2013 (deferring 20% of salary and 75% of bonus). And, "unfortunately", there are also in-the-money stock options for this spouse which vest and we intend to exercise and the income cannot be deferred. It puts us right back in the marriage penalty.

Further problems are ones that I suppose are usually associated with deferred income plans. You run the risk of the company not existing 15 years down the road, and you are limited to the investment choices provided by the plan. I am not too worried about the former, but the latter is a partial issue.

I checked our medical plan and it allows for coverage of a "partner". As for how well the marriage contract can be simulated, I will still have to wait and get some professional advice. I could go to the chap who set up our boiler plate living trust, but I think I want someone who has seen this type of thing before, although I don't know how I would find them. Should I start hanging out in gay bars?

Samuel Clemens
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The idea would be to defer essentially 100% of one of our incomes, to be paid out over a 15 year time span after termination of employment. It would smear those earnings over fifteen years instead of the next five years or so. That way we would revert to a one-income family and not see the marriage penalty.

Enron triggers laws make the deferred income plans very inflexible. Any change to distribution rules require a 5 year wait.

As you noted, the other problem is that the assets of the plan are company assets and not yours. If your employer has financial problems, the assets are subject to claims against your employer.

A living trust covers part of the financial issues, and should be done regardless. For states that have high probate costs, trusts avoid much of the cost of probate. More importantly trusts cover what happens when a trustee or all trustees are no longer able to handle their own financial affairs.

It is not immoral to pay the least amount of taxes required.

Given your income range, were you subject to AMT? If you are, have you taken it into consideration? AMT took back a significant amount of the Bush tax cuts.
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MarkTwain,

You wrote, As in "I cannot reconcile our desire to save $20K on the yearly taxes and the fact that we are married?" That is enough? Is that legal?

I'm not a lawyer ... but I'm pretty sure it is.

Also, There may be another option: Deferring income by one of us. Care to vet this idea?

I make a good deal less than you, but I was eligible for a deferred compensation plan with my last employer. I'm afraid I just couldn't bring myself to take that risk.

The assets in a deferred compensation plans are the property of your employer until they are paid out. The obligation to pay you is an unsecured debt of the company. (This should be spelled out in the collateral provided by the employer.) That means you are assuming the default risk any unsecured bond holder would assume with your employer and may be doing it for a very long (think 30 years) term with a very large fraction of your net worth. Do you think your employer will last that long? I work for a major corporation now and I'm still not sure I would take that risk - at least not with as much of my income as you are contemplating.

- Joel
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SC,

Ignore all of the holier-than-thou-ness on this board and do what's best for your situation. It's sad that you and your wife were put into this situation by a government that has made it clear they don't like you and as you've probably already ascertained, this board is decidedly left wing as you can see from all of the judgmental replies...

Hopefully, you can find a way to offset the government's greed like moving to an adjacent State to save on State income taxes (I think I read you live in California?)

Thanks for your original post as this little nugget may affect us as well.

ferjen
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Ignore all of the holier-than-thou-ness on this board and do what's best for your situation. It's sad that you and your wife were put into this situation by a government that has made it clear they don't like you and as you've probably already ascertained, this board is decidedly left wing as you can see from all of the judgmental replies...
==============================

I've read entire thread. The only judgmental replies I've seen are those that tend to believe marriage vows mean more than "for better worse unless there is a tax advantage to being single." Is that a left wing position?

I saw lots of posts about the possible problems in other areas that are impacted by the marriage. I saw these as warnings, certainly not holier-than-thou-ness.

I don't remember the marriage penalty being a position of either party, do you?

Maybe the legislature should have been less focus on DOMA and more on the marriage penalty.

Jean
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In science couple, there are many strange situations. I had a friend who worked in research in Washington, d.c., and his wife did research in Chicago, IL. She was upset over the marriage penalty, and they got a "Divorce Of Bed And Board." I had never heard of it, but it seems they could then file separately with the IRS but not marry someone else. They still talked over the phone for a long time every Friday evening and took a two week vacation together around Christmas. That seemed to be enough togetherness for them. They eventually got a real divorce because she wanted to retire to a small town in Indiana that she had ascertained was the safest spot in the U.S. from natural disasters of any kind (and nuclear power plants too). He wanted none of it.

The two scientist couples often lived far apart. In one other case, the wife became the provost of the Univ. Nebraska and the husband a professor at Univ. Vermont. Previously she had been the State Geologist of Minnesota. Spending Christmas vacations together seemed to be the norm. In some cases they were close enough that they could be together on weekends too.

brucedoe
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I had a friend who worked in research in Washington, d.c., and his wife did research in Chicago, IL. She was upset over the marriage penalty, and they got a "Divorce Of Bed And Board." I had never heard of it, but it seems they could then file separately with the IRS but not marry someone else.

Correct. That term "divorce from bed and board" is an old one I hadn't heard in years, but I gather it was once used here (Wis.) too. It's just another term for a legal separation. And yes, it qualifies you to file as single, and may qualify support payments as taxable/deductible alimony.

They eventually got a real divorce because she wanted to retire to a small town in Indiana that she had ascertained was the safest spot in the U.S. from natural disasters of any kind (and nuclear power plants too). He wanted none of it.

Don't blame him. If being retired and living in Indiana isn't enough of a disaster - who needs hurricanes and earthquakes?

Bill
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In science couple, there are many strange situations.

Likewise cinematic science couples. Witness that 1945 Tracy/Hepburn epic Without Love.

In WWII Pat Jamieson is a scientist working, with Government support, on a high-altitude oxygen mask for fighter pilots. But he has nowhere to conduct his research in secret until he meets Jamie Rowan, a woman with an unused house with a scientist's basement.

It's not every woman who comes to a marriage of convenience with a dowry of a scientist's basement.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool
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