The Lamp

Where truth can be shared.

Reward Marriage by Eliminating Tax Permanently

Posted by thelamp on February 16, 2007

On Feb. 6, U.S. Rep. Jerry Weller, R-Ill., introduced a bill that would completely eliminate the federal tax penalty for being married. Weller’s proposal is one of five similar bills pending in Congress. Without such legislation, recent changes to the IRS tax code – permitting couples to be taxed at the same rate as individuals – face expiration Jan 1, 2011.

While the relief remains in effect, working couples save an average of $1,700 on their taxes. Without a doubt, making the policy permanent is one step the government can take to support the institution of marriage.

From 1913 to 1969, married couples enjoyed an advantage when it came to paying income taxes. In 1969, that policy was perceived as being unfair to singles, so it was changed.

When Congress devised the standard deduction, the amounts were based on the assumption that married couples generally share expenses; therefore they live less expensively than two single individuals. Consequently, the way tax brackets were set up for single people and married couples resulted in a larger tax bill for many working couples after they got married. In many instances, a couple who married lost earned income tax credits they once had received as singles. Whether Congress intended to do so or not, the change essentially penalized couples for marrying.

Considering the positive impact that marriage has on American culture, it’s not only ludicrous, but also counterproductive to penalize people for making a spiritual and legal commitment. Yet, the penalty of the marriage tax established a financial incentive for couples not to wed.

The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 reduced the impact of the marriage penalty. However, if Congress doesn’t act, the penalty will be reinstated.

Of course, in order to balance the budget, lawmakers will have to come up with other ways of generating revenue to operate the government. As challenging as this may be, eliminating the marriage penalty is worth the effort.

The number of unmarried couples living together is steadily increasing. Although men and women should be entering holy matrimony to place God at the center of their union, the Center for Moral Clarity believes there’s nothing wrong with a financial incentive.

In fact, it would be in the government’s best interest to promote marriage. Arguably, the weakened state of marriage as an institution is the leading social problem in America. Remember that children raised in homes where there is no marriage are significantly more likely to use drugs, drop out of school, suffer from depression, endure abuse, become sexually active and commit suicide than kids with married parents.

Marriage not only has numerous societal benefits, but also is good for the economy. A study of census data reveals that married couples earn more, save more and build more wealth than singles living together. Simply stated, marriage matters, which makes it a valuable institution in which the government ought to invest – permanently.


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