'Will You Marry Me...In December?' -- Tax-Induced Wedding Date Shifting and Mismatching in Long-Term Relationships

34 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2019

See all articles by Kerstin Roeder

Kerstin Roeder

University of Augsburg

Robert Ullmann

University of Augsburg; Norwegian Center for Taxation

Date Written: March 18, 2019

Abstract

We use administrative micro-level data of all 1,799,066 divorce cases in Germany over the 2006 to 2015 period to empirically show that marriages with weddings at year end last considerably shorter than does the average (median) marriage. Specifically the average (median) difference (conditional on divorce) between marriages with December weddings and marriages with weddings in all remaining months is 500.4 (654) days with overall length of marriage being 5223.6 (4498) days. We attribute this empirical observation to the German marriage tax benefit which is granted for the entire calendar year if the couple is married for at least one day therein. In response to this incentive, couples use forward shifting of the ’legal’ wedding date as a tax planning strategy to collect the marriage tax benefit for the year(s) prior to their ’real’ (i.e. in the absence of any tax benefit) date of the wedding. We theoretically model this decision and argue that, in essence, couples forego sufficient courtship time to collect the marriage tax benefit, and hence, mismatching in long-term relationships results.

Suggested Citation

Roeder, Kerstin and Ullmann, Robert, 'Will You Marry Me...In December?' -- Tax-Induced Wedding Date Shifting and Mismatching in Long-Term Relationships (March 18, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3354630 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3354630

Kerstin Roeder (Contact Author)

University of Augsburg ( email )

Universitätsstr. 2
Augsburg, 86159
Germany

Robert Ullmann

University of Augsburg ( email )

Universitätsstr. 16
Augsburg, 86159
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.wiwi.uni-augsburg.de/bwl/ullmann/Team/Prof_-Dr_-Robert-Ullmann/

Norwegian Center for Taxation ( email )

Helleveien 30
Bergen, Bergen 5045
Norway

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