Senators Need to Hear from Unmarried Taxpayers

Hello Unmarried America,


I visited your web site hoping to find some information about the House and Senate bills to make permanent the near-elimination of the so-called marriage tax penalty.  I understand as of May 20, 2004, the House has passed such a bill, but the Senate has not yet, and won't be taking it up until early June. 


I had thought you would have had something on your main web page alerting people to this situation, where the near-elimination of the so-called marriage tax penalty will mean that nearly all married couples will receive a tax bonus (i.e. will pay less federal income taxes then two singles with the same incomes).  And those who already receive the marriage tax bonus will receive an even larger marriage tax bonus.


Of course, the reciprocal of a marriage tax bonus is a singles tax penalty.  When almost all pairs of people will pay more taxes as singles than as marrieds, that is clearly an overall singles tax penalty.  It is a shifting of the tax burden from the nearly overall marriage-neutral tax system that we had until about three years ago onto the backs of singles.  (When I say the overall marriage-neutral tax system that we had until about three years ago, I am speaking only of regular federal income taxes here, and leaving out estate tax issues, Social Security, and so on which has always favored marrieds).


I was shocked to see nothing on this issue on your web page.  No alerts about upcoming legislation on this or other issues, nothing. 


I did find the below page (with a prominent link on the web site) -- -- which is an excellent essay on all the ways singles are discriminated against in taxes and other benefits.  But the discussion of the overall marriage tax bonus is all pre-2001.  In particular, it is prior to the 2001 and 2003 tax laws that begins the phase-in of marriage tax bonuses for almost all couples.  This current House and Senate Bills seek to make these increased marriage bonuses permanent.  (Without a new law, these extra marriage tax bonuses are slated to phase out in 2005, then phase back in from 2006-2008, then expire in 2011 - bizarre, I know -- it was a kind of "donut hole" deal to reduce the 10-year cost of the tax cuts ).


I bet most singles believe the media and government propaganda that the near elimination of the "marriage tax penalty" is a long overdue correction to some bizarre quirk in the tax code.  All fair-minded singles would agree that people shouldn't pay extra taxes just for marrying.  Sadly, what they almost never hear, and certainly your web site is no help in this regard, is that the near elimination of the marriage tax penalty means that almost all married people will be getting a bonus.


I was also surprised and upset to see the John O. Fox article featured on your main page -- "For Singles, April Really is the Cruelest Month",  and the chat transcript.  It compares a single person's taxes with that of marriage couple with two young children.  I feel very strongly that we should separate the issue of child tax credits from the issue of marriage taxes.  I am NOT anti-children, and, in fact, I think households with children should receive some tax relief, regardless of whether the household is headed by a married couple or un-married couple or a single person.  I feel it hurts the justice-for-singles cause to be seen as whining about tax breaks that people with children get.  (Particularly considering that many singles have children).


We should focus on married vs. unmarried, not on with and without children.  As many singles and un-married couples have children.  And overall, we do need children.



John Johnson


Ed. Note:   In response to Mr. Johnson's letter to us, we added a news story to our website which discusses this important tax bill pending in the United States Senate.

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