Life After DOMA: Watch Your Withholding

Couples in same-gender marriages are now considered married for federal tax purposes. At tax time, some couples will find that they owe more in taxes and some will find that they owe less in taxes by filing as married.

One thing couples in a same-gender marriage will want to consider is the income-tax withholdings coming out of their paychecks.

There are two levels of withholding: single and married. More taxes get withheld at the single level than at the married level.

A person who is married can elect to have taxes withheld at the single level, and that’s what I’m recommending to most of my clients who are in same-gender marriages.


I’m making this recommendation as a way of cushioning the tax blow at tax time — in my practice, approximately 2/3 of my clients in same-gender marriages will pay more in taxes by filing as married. For some clients, it’s literally a few dollars difference, but some will see their tax liability spike by literally thousands of dollars. Keeping their withholding at the single level will help offset some of the tax hit.

Of course, this may be bad advice for other couples. So couples in same-sex marriages should either run calculations themselves or ask their tax pro about the withholding issue prior to making any final decisions.