Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Monday, December 03, 2012

Disincentives to marry

Hans Bader writes:
As Rep. Thomas Petri has noted in the Washington Post, “The decline in marriage and the rise in the number of children born to unmarried mothers are concentrated among lower-income families. One reason is that lower-income couples will often lose money if they get married. Many federal benefits such as food stamps and the earned income tax credit phase out as income rises. Under federal law, if two individuals earning the minimum wage choose to marry, combining their incomes results in the loss of some $7,000 in federal benefits. The result: Fewer marriages, more births outside marriage and reduced prospects for rising into the middle class.”

I was not aware when I got married a decade ago that there were still marriage penalties in the tax code and federal law. The Washington Post, my daily paper, falsely reported that the Bush tax cuts got rid of the marriage penalty. But they only reduced the marriage penalty, and left it partly intact for households above $100,000. Then, Obama inserted new marriage penalties into the tax code through discriminatory eligibility requirements for child tax credits, etc., that my wife could get tomorrow if she divorced me (even if I paid her lots of child support), but which we cannot get due to our being married and our income being over $110,000 per year.
I guess these disincentives did not affect his decision to marry, because he did not know about them at the time. But more men are deciding not to marry for various reasons, including those explained by Suzanne Venker. We have a whole set of policies that are destroying marriage as we know it.

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