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taxes

Another Marriage Penalty for Taxpayers

A new reason to stick to cohabitation -- if you and your devoted have a giant mortgage.

Getting married may make your mom happy, but if you are a high-income couple, there’s a good chance your taxes will go up. That’s because your combined income could force you to pay a higher federal tax bill than you would have owed had you stayed single.

Now there may be another reason to break your mother’s heart. Thanks to a change in IRS rules last year, an unmarried couple can deduct twice as much of their mortgage- and home-equity-debt interest.

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After losing a court case, the IRS agreed that the limits on deductions for mortgage interest—$1 million of mortgage debt plus $100,000 in home-equity financing—apply on a per-taxpayer basis, not a per-residence basis. A married couple is considered one taxpayer; an unmarried couple, two. That means an unmarried couple could deduct interest on a combined $2.2 million of mortgage debt.

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