The cost of being single adds up for women

  • Article by: CHIARA ATIK HOWABOUTWE.COM
  • Updated: March 20, 2013 - 3:23 PM

Single women pay more over their lifetime for taxes, health care and housing.

 

Over a lifetime, unmarried women can pay as much as a million dollars more than their married counterparts for health care, taxes, and more, thanks to more than 1,000 laws that provide legal/financial benefits to married couples. Here are a few of the biggest ways, according to the Atlantic, that singles get the short end of the financial stick.

Income Taxes

In 2010, a single woman earning $40,000 paid $6,181 in income taxes. (Her married peer paid more than $1,000 less: $5,162.)

In 2010, a single woman earning $80,000 paid $16,125 in income taxes. (Her married counterpart paid almost $4,000 less per year.)

That’s projected over 40 years based on 2011 rates:

A single woman earning $40,000 per year paid $245,000 in income taxes. A married woman earning $40,000 paid $206,000 in income taxes — a difference of $39,000.

A single woman earning $80,000 per year paid $645,000 in income taxes. A married woman earning $80,000 paid $490,000 in income taxes — a difference of $155,000.

Social Security Benefits

If a single person dies without children, her money will go into the system to be provided to whoever needs it most. However, if a married person dies, the money can go to her family.

A married woman could receive up to 50 percent of her husband’s benefits while her husband is alive.

Spouses can also receive 100 percent of their dead spouse’s benefits, if the deceased’s benefits are higher than the recipient’s would have been.

A married woman has the option to collect on her retired husband’s Social Security (in addition to her own income).

If her husband has earned $51,000 per year for the past 40 years, she could choose to receive $39,768 for the four years she deferred retirement, which is half of his Social Security (and doesn’t diminish the amount he receives).

IRA options

A married person can put away $5,000 a year for his or her spouse for every year the spouse isn’t working. A single person can’t put away that money in support of someone else, nor can someone else put away money for her if she’s unemployed.

Spouses can withdraw money from an IRA early, for medical or education expenses, without the usual 10 percent fee.

Single people overburdened by unplanned medical expenses will lose 10 percent of the withdrawal amount even if the expenses are high. In other words, single people are penalized when they make the same choices as their married counterparts.

Health

Couples spent 6.9 percent of their annual income on health on average; single men spent 3.9 percent and single women spent 7.9 percent.

A married woman with an income of $80,000 spent $331,200 on health over 60 years, and an unmarried woman with the same income spent $379,200 — a difference of $48,000.

Housing

Couples spent 23.9 percent of their annual income on housing; single men spent 30.3 percent and single women spent 39.8 percent.

A single woman making $80,000 spent $1,910,400 on housing over 60 years, whereas a married woman making $80,000 spent only $1,147,200 — a difference of $763,200.

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