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How the 'Fiscal Cliff' Could Hurt Married Couples
"For 2012, the marriage penalty is lower than prior years because of tax relief included in the Bush-era tax cuts. Without this provision being extended at year's end, the standard deduction will decrease in 2013, dropping to $9,900 from $11,900, according to H&R Block.
The marriage tax relief is among the provisions set to expire Jan. 2 that, combined with automatic budget cuts, could trigger what is called the "fiscal cliff" unless Congress intervenes.
At the very least, you should know where you stand. The Tax Policy Center created a calculator to help you figure out whether you pay a penalty or get a bonus.
According to this tool, couples with roughly similar income would start to face a marriage penalty if they each earn more than $80,000 per year, assuming a simple 10 percent state and local tax without itemized deductions. Though initially small, this penalty grows with income and hits high-earning couples disproportionately harder.
Regardless of where you fall on the married tax rate spectrum, you'll need to know some rules to soften the blow."
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