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Marriage: Legal Costs and Benefits January 17, 2013

Posted by federalist in Economic Policy, Social Politics, Taxation.

I have suggested that advocates for legalizing same-sex marriage might be largely motivated by government financial benefits.

It is probably hopeless to disentangle the full costs and benefits that accrue to marriage and child-bearing from government policies (everything from welfare programs to tax codes). But a recent essay claiming that marriage accrues only benefits prompted some interesting counterpoints. E.g.,

The fact is that taxes make marriage extremely expensive for almost all successful opposite-sex couples, more so if they have children, even more so under the new Obama tax rates. Income tax liability is generally lower (not higher, as Arnold and Campbell assert) for unmarried earners, and lower still for single parents than married parents.

The only notable exception to the marriage penalty is for same-sex married couples in community property states, who (thanks to DOMA) divide their income 50/50 and file single or single head-of-household returns–which always saves them a bundle compared to any other tax status.

So gay marriage has in fact produced some handsome financial dividends for its practitioners.



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