We are thinking about getting married but want to look at the entire picture before doing so. We have a business together (LLC) which is our primary income and didn't know if there are potential benefits or ramifications if we decided to get married. We don't have any children, nor will we. We do not own a home (but want to). He has "excellent" credit and I have had some major hits on mine (foreclosure, bk etc).
From a legal standpoint, what are our best options?
i will answer your tax question. Normally, marriage will save taxes. The more diverse your income (i.e. yours is high and his is low), the greater the benefit. In effect, the income is deemed earned approximately equally by both. Hence, the average tax rate can be lower. If the incomes are approximately equal, then there is probably little or no benefit. In rare instances, there is a marriage penalty due to the unique circumstances of the couple. For example, if you are married, you can only use $3,000 per year of capital losses against ordinary income, whereas if you are not married, each individual can use up to $3,000 per year.
Essentially, you have to run the numbers.
One downside of filing jointly is that both you and your husband are jointly liable for the entire tax. So, even if you get married, you may choose to file "Married Filiing Separately" so as not to be jointly liable. That should be a consideration for your boyfriend in light of your credit record.
Marty Davidoff, email@example.com, 732-274-1600. This answer is provided for general information only. You should seek advice from an attorney or tax professional.
The previous attorney is correct. Usually the ability to file jointly makes it better than filing two singles because you have larger brackets that either taxpayer can use. But I really don't think the tax benefits justify marriage.
The others have addressed the tax issue. You can usually navigate the credit issues by relying on one partner or the other's credit.
I would respectfully invite you to weigh the marriage decision long and hard. You will likely save some taxes, but that should be an almost invisible blip on your list of considerations. My wife is a psychotherapist who does a lot of couples' work and she sees marriages in crisis. Hopefully there are innumerable other elements, e.g., your commitment to one another, that might lead you to marry.
From a strictly legal vantage point, you are in a community property state, I believe. That means that following marriage substantially all property including savings, salary, etc., that you earn are held as community property, meaning you each have an equal share. You will change your financial relationship upon marriage.
In addition, marriage is much easier to get into than to get out of. Hopefully you have weighed all this already and the tax question is just a passing inquiry. My advice is to just be certain you are willing to undertake the legal regulation of marriage because of your love and commitment to one another before you take this step.