House Votes 'Yea' on Marriage Penalty Acceleration

The House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to support an acceleration of the elimination of the marriage penalty from the standard deduction.

With a vote of 409-1 - only Representative Alan Mollohan (D-WV) voted against the measure - the House voted to begin eliminating the marriage penalty in 2003 instead of 2005 as originally scheduled.

Complete elimination of the marriage penalty will be accomplished when the standard deduction and the 15% income tax bracket for married filing jointly taxpayers is equal to exactly twice, or 200%, that of a single taxpayers. The original timetable for equalizing taxes among single and married taxpayers looked like this:

  • 2005: Standard deduction for married filing jointly taxpayers goes to 174% of standard deduction for two single taxpayers; 15% tax bracket goes to 180% that of single taxpayers.

  • 2006: Standard deduction for married filing jointly taxpayers goes to 184% of standard deduction for two single taxpayers; 15% tax bracket goes to 187% that of single taxpayers.

  • 2007: Standard deduction for married filing jointly taxpayers goes to 187% of standard deduction for two single taxpayers; 15% tax bracket goes to 193% that of single taxpayers.

  • 2008: Standard deduction for married filing jointly taxpayers goes to 190% of standard deduction for two single taxpayers; 15% tax bracket goes to 200% that of single taxpayers.

  • 2009: Standard deduction for married filing jointly taxpayers goes to 200% of standard deduction for two single taxpayers.

Under House Bill HR4626, the equalization timetable would be changed to include an increase in the standard deduction for married filing jointly taxpayers beginning in 2003 to 170% of the standard deduction for two single taxpayers. All other relief measures would remain the same.

In 2001 the standard deduction was $4,550 for single taxpayers (or $9,100 for two single taxpayers) and $7,600 for married taxpayers filing joint returns. This represents a 164.8% disparity in the standard deduction between taxpayers who choose to get married and those who choose to stay single. Opponents of this disparity feel the additional tax burden on married taxpayers is actually a penalty for being married.

The House bill also modifies the Work Opportunity Credit and the Welfare-to-Work Credit, combining the two credits into one with a single set of requirements and rules. It is expected that this tax bill would reduce taxes by $906 million over a period of 10 years. You can view the complete text of the bill by entering HR4626 at the Thomas Web site.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is not expected to be met with as warm a reception as it was given in the House.

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