The Federal Government's War on Marriage AKA the Marriage Penalty Tax: Unfair to Individuals and Harmful to Society

By Carpenter, Floyd W.; Lassila, Dennis R. et al. | Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues, July 2013 | Go to article overview

The Federal Government's War on Marriage AKA the Marriage Penalty Tax: Unfair to Individuals and Harmful to Society


Carpenter, Floyd W., Lassila, Dennis R., Smith, L. Murphy, Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues


INTRODUCTION

Research studies on public policy such as tax and transfer programs have revealed their negative impact on marital stability. One of the most negative aspects of tax law is the marriage penalty tax (MPT). The current study analyzes the cost to individuals of various aspects of the MPT, and consequently, how it discourages marriage and how it harms both individuals and society at large. The decline of the family, especially regarding married couples, is considered one of the critical problems facing American society. Past research indicates that the MPT, due to its negative impact on marital stability and two-parent families, results in significant costs to individuals, and leads to major social and economic costs, such as higher rates of children living in poverty, lower education, higher unemployment, more crime, and poorer public health.

Considering its harmful impact on individuals and to society, the conclusion is that the MPT should be eliminated from the tax code. Those opposing repeal of the marriage penalty have argued that 'higher-income' taxpayers receive a disproportionate amount of the tax reduction. However, findings of this study indicate that the MPT has an equally negative effect on couples in the lowest income categories, especially regarding the earned income tax credit. Further, elimination of the MPT only reduces taxes for married couples, not single taxpayers; thus, married taxpayers receive a 'disproportionate' benefit relative to single taxpayers.

President Lincoln is famous for saying that foreign invaders could never destroy America but that America could be destroyed only if Americans themselves were the author and finisher of their own destruction (Lincoln, 1838). Marriage and families are regarded as building blocks of civilization. Winston Churchill observed: "There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained" (ThinkExist, 2012). Yet, in America, numerous parts of the federal tax code, directly penalize marriage and thereby have a detrimental effect on American families.

Regardless of a couple's income level, logically, the couple should not have to pay more taxes, simply for the reason that they are married, as opposed to simply living together unmarried. Many studies on family structure that control for variables such as race, education and income level, have found that children raised in married two-parent families have better outcomes on average than children raised in other settings (Coverdale, 2007; Deleire & Kalil, 2002; Demuth & Brown, 2004; McLanahan, 1996; Morse, 2003; Parker & Johns, 2002). By its financial disincentives, the MPT is anti-marriage and anti- family; consequently, the MPT is harmful to children and to all of society. The family unit is the bedrock of civilization; if families decline, civilization will break down (Feucht et al., 2009; Feucht et al., 2008; Hagelin, 2007; Heritage Foundation, 2012b). Tax laws, as part of public policy, should foster, not hamper, two-parent families and their corresponding economic benefits such as improved employment, better public health, and lower crime.

The marriage penalty tax is typically defined as the excess of (1) the amount of income tax that a married couple would pay using the filing status of married filing jointly minus (2) the combined amount of income tax that two single (unmarried individuals) would pay filing as single individuals. MPTs are generally largest when the spouses have equal or nearly equal amounts of income. On the other hand, a marriage bonus tax (MBT) is said to exist when the (1) combined amount of tax that two single individuals have to pay is larger than (2) the amount of tax paid by a married couple filing a joint return. MBTs are generally largest when one spouse in a married couple generates all or nearly all of the couple's total income. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Federal Government's War on Marriage AKA the Marriage Penalty Tax: Unfair to Individuals and Harmful to Society
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.