Many thanks to Jim (and to Bitsy, and Dennis, who both tried earlier) for getting me to finally read Lily Kahng’s paper on “eliminating marriage as a basis for preferential treatment under the tax law.” What a pleasant surprise to discover that she references AtMP’s advocacy on income taxes, as well as Jim’s extensive research and analysis (marriagePenalty.xls, best accessed here). Of course, we agree completely with Kahng’s conclusion: “The joint return is unsupportable and should be abolished.”
Quoting (with permission) Jim’s post to AtMP-Talk, our email listserv:
all my work, and all AtMP’s work for that matter, compares two unmarried people vs. a married couple, i.e. ALWAYS TWO people compared to TWO people. I believe comparing the tax burden of one person to that of two people is an apple vs. oranges comparison. But I do strongly agree with her that the plight of the uncoupled single (someone who doesn’t have someone else to collaborate with on splitting credits and deductions and even income to minimize taxes) is being left out of practically all studies and discussion of the marriage bonus/penalty issue.
For those who hate numbers and taxes, Kahng’s paper is about much more than that – she surveys attitudes to singles, all kinds of advocacy and alternatives to married groups, discrimination (other than taxes), and other sociology of singles topics. So you can skip over the tax stuff if you want and enjoy the sociology stuff.
For example, here are Kahng’s closing words:
Moving beyond the tax system, recognizing the value of singleness can help us interrogate and critique the role of government and citizens in promoting and supporting marriage. For example, the same-sex marriage debate might be informed by considerations of whether the legal, economic, and social privileges of marriage ought to be expanded further, or rather eliminated entirely. Similarly, we might further question the role of the government in promoting marriage as a solution to poverty, especially for African American women. Instead, marriage could come to be viewed as one among many alternatives. (link added)