Munich There are not always romantic motives behind the decision for marriage or a registered civil partnership. Many a couple are hoping for a tax-saving model. After all, spouse splitting offers a tax advantage in many cases with the joint tax assessment.
However, a second look is also worthwhile here. Because in special constellations, the individual assessment can be the better choice. If half of the special expenditure is then divided between the two partners on request, the calculation method is important so that both partners benefit optimally.
A couple experienced how much the calculation can influence the tax burden, the Federal Finance Court recently decided on the case (Az: III R 11/18). The responsible tax office had first carried out the beneficiary check on the spouses. For this purpose, the authority had set up the pension expenses borne by the respective partner and only determined the deduction amounts in the next step and split them in half.
The wife criticized this method of calculation and demanded that the expenses should first be added and that half should be allocated to both partners. Only then would the spouse check be carried out separately for each spouse. The Baden-Württemberg Finance Court also approved this form of calculation in its decision. The decision was confirmed in the subsequent revision by the Federal Finance Court.
Unlike the competent tax office, the top financial judges referred to the tax simplification that the legislature wanted. They pointed out that a simplified calculation will only be possible if the expenses are divided equally between the spouses in the first step. Ultimately, this eliminates the otherwise necessary check of how high the respective economic burden on the partners is.
A point of reference for this assessment is the procedure for exceptional burdens and tax reductions. In both cases, half of the expenses are shared between the spouses. The Bundesfinanzhof pointed out at this point that the calculation method does not conflict with the principle of individual taxation, since the law expressly provides for an exception here.
The joint assessment brings tax benefits especially when married couples or registered life partners have very different income levels. It is different if one of the partners receives unemployment or parental allowance. Because the wage replacement benefit is tax-free, but is subject to the progression reservation. In this way, it increases the tax rate of taxable income in the case of a joint assessment and leads to a higher tax. The situation is similar if a partner has received a severance payment, the more favorable fifth taxation of which can only have an impact on individual assessments.
Significantly higher extraordinary burdens on a spouse or life partner can also be a reason for choosing separate taxation. This is the case, for example, if medical costs for one of the two exceed the level of the reasonable burden and thus have an impact on the income tax. Even if a partner records losses in the tax year, individual assessment is a good option. In this way, the negative amounts are not offset against the income of the other person and can be carried over to another year.
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