Without fiscal cliff deal, marriage penalty could impact couples

by: Catherine Bilkey Updated:


 Going over the fiscal cliff could mean higher taxes for married couples. If Republicans and Democrats can't come to an agreement, couples could pay more than $2,000 in higher taxes thanks to the so-called “marriage penalty.”

"I pray that they will do better,” Ann Bowden said about lawmakers.

The Bush-era tax cuts allowed many married couples to get a standard deduction twice that of individuals. If it expires, they'll be paying more in taxes.

“That's a little concerning,” Don Cline said. “I do think they're going to come to some sort of agreement that ultimately. The only people that are going to be paying more are people that are making significantly more money."

Couples in higher tax brackets, above 15 percent, have never seen the marriage penalty go away and that will likely continue. Other tax cuts that affect married couples are also on the line. Couples that benefit from the Earned Income Tax Cut would also get hit.

“At a time like this it would be awful,” Bowden said. “Everything is going up. Prices are getting higher. Everything is going up. So I think it would be awful.”

Some couples in Charlotte are not surprised that their taxes may go up next year. They said they have other concerns.

"I'm so worried about Social Security, and I'm so worried about the medical end of it that if taxes go up, it'll just have to go up,” Deborah Ellman said.

Everyone we spoke to is hopeful that Democrats and Republicans can reach some sort of agreement.