Marriage Tax Penalty One Step Closer to its Grave?

With a vote of 269-159, the House gave its blessing to a marriage tax relief bill that is now on its way to the Senate. The Senate hopes to send a final version of the marriage bill, along with a bill for demolishing the estate tax, to President Clinton on the eve of the Republican National Convention, the timing of which is not coincidental.

The marriage penalty tax, as it is justifiably called, is a nuance of the tax code that requires married couples to pay tax at a higher rate than they would if they remained single. The tax law especially affects married couples negatively when both work. The change that Congress is considering would phase out the tax penalty to married couples over a 10-year period.

Senate Republicans hope to use Clinton’s response to both bills as ammunition at the convention. If Clinton vetoes the bills, as he has threatened to do because they will not contain provisions for his pet project of a government-run Medicare prescription drug benefit, Republicans will use his refusal to sign as a means of setting their party out as the party that wants to cut taxes. If Clinton surprises Republicans and signs either of the bills, the party plans to challenge Vice President Gore’s claim that Republicans are running a “do nothing” Congress.

It would seem that these bills, though close to the hearts of all Americans, are little more than political ploys at this time.


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