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Will Congress Penalize Marriage Again?

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Publication Date: August 2008

Publisher(s): National Center for Policy Analysis (U.S.)

Author(s): Daniel Wityk

Funder(s): National Center for Policy Analysis (U.S.)

Funder(s): National Center for Policy Analysis (U.S.)

Topic: Banking and finance (Taxation and tax policy)

Keywords: Congress; Marriage

Type: Brief

Coverage: United States


The marriage penalty is a quirk in the tax code that pushes married couples into a higher tax bracket than two unmarried single earners living together and earning the same combined income. The 2001 Bush tax cuts all but eliminated the marriage penalty by lowering tax rates and simplifying other elements of the tax code. However, these Bush tax cuts expire in 2010, and American families face steep marginal tax increases if Congress fails to renew them.