While there are many joys that come with marriage, one of them is not tax time. Though you may be eligible for certain tax deductions and credits if you filed married, there are some cases where married couples may have to pay a penalty for filing jointly. This occurs if the couples total tax liability is greater than that which they would pay if they filed single status. Generally, this occurs when both parties contribute large portions to the couple’s combined income.

The federal government has created legislation which has helped reduce the amount of the penalty. Couples can file jointly and claim a standard deduction that is double the amount offered to single filers, as well as a 15% tax bracket, also double the rate for singles.

Married couples whose situation allows only one spouse to contribute the largest portion of the total income can benefit from filing jointly. Otherwise you may have to pay a penalty for filing as single person, because a joint return will net a lower tax than both spouse’s liabilities if they were to file single.