Marriage Tax Tango

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 14, 2004 | Go to article overview

Marriage Tax Tango


Byline: Matt Daniels, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A strange thing happened in the U.S. House of Representatives recently. Republicans and Democrats came together to pass an important piece of legislation by an overwhelming majority - even though it is an election year.

Now, Americans should hope the U.S. Senate will do an equally strange thing - in the interest of our nation - and pass the same bill, too.

The legislation in question is a bill to make permanent some recent changes in the tax code that have been very good for families. These changes eliminate something often called the "marriage penalty" in federal taxation.

The marriage penalty, which first arose more by accident than by design, used to occur when two single taxpayers with relatively modest incomes married. Suddenly, the combined income of this new couple put them in a higher tax bracket than either of them were in as single people.

Put another way, the act of getting married required them to pay more taxes together than the two of them would have combined to pay had they remained single.

Recognizing this marriage penalty was both terribly unfair and incredibly unwise - given the importance of marital stability to social well-being - President Bush proposed to eliminate the marriage penalty as part of his 2001 tax cuts.

Unfortunately, at the time, there weren't enough offsetting budget savings to make this change in the tax treatment of married couples permanent. So, Congress agreed to adopt the President's proposal for several years ... but only for several years.

Which is why the recent House action was so important - and why bipartisan cooperation in the Senate is still needed. …

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