Marriage Penalty

February 21, 2000

At the moment, the Congress is in the midst of what is becoming its annual battle over the marriage penalty. Last year, Congress passed a marriage penalty relief act and President Clinton vetoed the measure. This year the battle returns with a twist.

The marriage penalty quite simply is the additional tax working couples pay because they are married. If they lived together but were not married, their taxes would be less. Proponents of this tax relief plan want to bring the tax code in line with our belief that marriage is a good thing and should not be taxed at a higher rate.

The bill making its way through Congress this year is designed to provide an estimated $182 billion in tax relief over the next 10 years to more than 50 million Americans. This year's debate has a twist. President Clinton has proposed his own relief of the marriage penalty which he says would provide $45 billion in relief over the next 10 years. Although the Republican plan would provide four times more relief, at least this is a proposal headed in the right direction.

The big problem with all of this is the stark fact that the American people don't care. Tax cuts and tax relief almost seem to be "non-starters" in this election year. Ask any American if he or she feels overtaxed. You know the answer. Then ask if they have written a letter or made a phone call about taxes in the last two years. Again, I suspect you know the answer.

We complain about high taxes, but very few of us seem interested enough to do anything about it. That's why I predict that it will be very hard to pass a bill eliminating the marriage penalty.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.