News for unmarried workers, consumers, taxpayers and voters             


Volume 2, No. 3              Spring Quarter             March - May 2001          

Unmarried Americans Need Tax Relief Too

Politicians in Washington have focused most of their talk about tax relief on "working families." With the budget surpluses as large as they are, there is nothing wrong with giving tax relief to the American people.

But it is the individual who pays taxes, not families. Employers withhold income tax from an individual’s pay-check. Payroll taxes are taken from an individual’s salary to fund the social security program. When an individual dies, federal estate taxes are taken from his or her estate.

So why all of the focus on tax relief for working families? Politics, of course.

Apparently the leaders of both major political parties are ignoring some basic demographic information as they haggle over who will get tax relief and who will not.

There are 80 million American taxpayers who are single or unmarried. We constitute 40 percent of the nation’s full-time work force and about 45 percent of the nation’s households. Tens of millions of us live alone. But most of us live in unmarried family households – with a child, a parent, a relative, or an unmarried partner.

We are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. We are voting Americans. We deserve tax relief too.

Unmarried Americans are treated unfairly by federal and state tax laws. We can’t file a joint return with an unmarried household member and thereby gain a tax "bonus" as many married couples do. We must pay income tax on domestic partner employment benefits while married people get tax free benefits at work. We may be deprived of the right to claim someone as a dependent or to file as "head of household" because Uncle Sam disapproves of our living arrangements. Many of us must fork over many of our hard-earned assets to the federal treasury in death taxes when we die – sometimes as much as 60% – while a







uncle-sam.jpg (272931 bytes)

Uncle Sam may be smiling,
but single taxpayers are not

married person can leave an unlimited amount of wealth to a surviving spouse tax free.

This issue of Unmarried America is devoted entirely to the unfair taxation of unmarried and single Americans – a topic which has been ignored by politicians and by the media for too long.

President Bush discussed his tax plan recently at a joint session of Congress. It would lower the income tax rates for wage earners in all tax brackets. It would also repeal the death tax – a system that currently exempts transfers between spouses while taxing transfers of wealth from an unmarried person to an unmarried partner, a child, a parent, or a close friend. That is marital status discrimination.

When they focus on the so-called "marriage penalty" which a minority of married couples pay when they file a joint return, many politicians – Democrats and Republicans alike – say that the tax code should be "marriage neutral."

If that is so, then why does the tax plan of the Democrats contain a marital exemption from death taxes on those estates which their plan would continue to tax? This surely will not please wealthy gay and lesbian Democrats who can’t marry and therefore will forfeit major assets to the government while their married heterosexual counterparts remain exempt. Ending the tax ends the discrimination!

There are other inequities, like discriminatory definitions of "head of household" in the income tax code, and unfair taxation of unmarried wage-earners in the social security tax, which neither party is discussing.

Please, let’s get all of the cards on the table if we are serious about tax relief for all Americans. If we are going to talk about fairness, then we should make sure that our actions reflect fairness.