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Marriage: A "Costly Luxury"? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 01 October 2009 07:27
There was this thought provoking article on the Forbes website last week on the fact that our tax laws make marriage a "costly luxury" for the working poor.

The piece is written by two Notre Dame Profs and clearly reflects a Catholic sensibility.

"As recently as 10 years ago, the "marriage penalty" was the exclusive province of the middle and upper classes: Two people with approximately the same incomes would pay more taxes if they married (and filed taxes jointly) than if they did not marry and filed as single taxpayers. The Bush tax cuts attempted to make tax rates "marriage-neutral"; for most middle-class taxpayers, there is now, in fact, little if any difference between filing as a married couple or as unmarried singles.

The working poor, by contrast, are in a highly undesirable position when it comes to marital status and taxes. It literally doesn't pay for working poor parents to marry. Instead, it costs them precious money in the form of lost tax credits.


Read the whole thing. The authors recognize the financial and political difficulties of coming up with a solution but point out.

"We applaud the recent efforts of Congress to eradicate or reduce the marriage penalty for those with higher levels of income, but these efforts have overlooked the most at-risk sector of our society: families headed by the working poor. Our current income tax laws create a hurdle to getting married or cause a devastating surprise when the newly married couple files their first tax return as husband and wife. In our opinion, this is unfair to the people involved and unhealthy for a society that already has many people cohabitating rather than living as husband and wife. Studies continue to indicate that one of the contributing causes of poverty, illegitimacy, crime, inadequate education and other socioeconomic problems is the absence of married, committed parents in a family."

A nice example of lay competence used to shape and "evangelize" our structures.

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