By Tom Rhodes, 2/1/13
The uncomfortable truth surrounding the marriage issue is that heterosexual couples have long been subsidized by their unwed neighbors. Rather than recognize the inherit unfairness of granting those who choose to be in a contractual relationship with another special privileges and rights that others don’t have, and eliminate all marriage tax preferences and treat it like any other contract, homosexuals want some of their number who choose to enter into contractual relationships the same benefits over single people. If we had a fair and just government, marriage contracts would be just that, contracts. They would convey no special benefits beyond the terms agreed upon. The result would be that religious individuals and institutions with conscientious objections to homosexuality would never be forced to violate their conscience.
The entire issue is caused by Too Much Government. Government that has gone beyond its core mission and responsibility has again proven to cause more problems than it fixes. Because the government has taken the function that for centuries was the purview of the church and stepped clearly beyond the powers granted to it, we now have a divisive issue in politics that should never have existed. Making marriage a tax issue and the government taking the authority to sanction marriage from the church has created a system that is unjust, unfair.
Government overstepping its bounds on taxation is the root of our problems. To attempt to socially engineer our society the government gives some people different tax rates than others, based on what private contractual agreements they enter. This is unjust on its face. What is the moral justification for a voluntary private contract between two individuals being what determines that taxing someone earning $25,000 a year at a differently than anybody else making $25,000 per year who has no contract with another?
The government using tens of thousands of pages of tax code to socially engineer society is obviously an abject failure. It is a method of “legally” instituting Neo-Feudalism and concentrating power in the hands of a few. It can be clearly seen when the favorites of the ruling elite, GE corporation, literally have to pay no taxes is favored by the ruling elite, while the everyday worker is oppressively taxed, and threatened with financial ruin for even challenging his taxes. You have to be exceptionally brave (stupid), be exceptionally poor, or have exceptional connections to the ruling elite to consider challenging the IRS. We need radical tax changes.
I’d prefer the Fair Tax, because consumption taxes disproportionately hit those who use more of the products and services society provides. The fact is that won’t happen in the current environment, so were stuck taxing the income not outflow of peoples finances. That said if the we’d all be a lot better off if IRS 1040 form looked like this:
No it’s not a perfect solution, but within our current legal and social structures it is viable. It’s not viable to congress because it takes away their gifting and power to control through taxation. It does however insure the poor not only don’t pay taxes, but get more back than they pay in, and although a “flat” tax its implementation is progressive. It also does away with any penalty or benefit to marriage. It is a just and fair method.
Let’s look at how a household of 4 people would be taxed at various incomes: If this family of four’s earnings was a mere $16K per year (minimum wage for one wage earner), not only wouldn’t they owe a dime in taxes but would receive a refund of an additional $3600, call it an “earned income tax credit,” effectively giving that family a 22% increase in their earnings. In fact until a family of four’s total earnings exceed $36K not only would they pay zero taxes but would get some extra back. A family of four earning $50K would only pay $2520 in taxes, while if they earned $100K they would pay $11,500 in taxes, and the mythical $400K earning family of 4 would pay $65,500 in taxes. Although seemingly flat, that in implementation is quite a progressive tax system. The key would be other than the standard deduction for a taxpayer and dependents there are no other deductions – PERIOD.
The elegant solution to the marriage penalty/benefit is the deductions. Every person is entitled to one deduction whether against their own wages or their spouses, significant other, or other “head of household” age is no barrier. If you end up supporting your parents in old age you can take a deduction from your taxes. One spouse, two spouses, no spouse, it doesn’t matter, each wage earner is entitled to $16,000 tax free and an additional $5,000 for every person they support including themselves, relationship is irrelevant. If you are a dependent of another person you can’t deduct yourself. This is fair, a wage earner gets to take a deduction for every person they support. Since everybody has a social security number, finding those who would try to double dip would be simple.
Do you see the hidden marriage bonus? It’s there, but it doesn’t care if it’s a legal marriage, gay marriage, or just casual cohabitation. Assume you have a household of 4 earning a total of $36,000 per year but instead of 1 wage earner it’s made of 2 wage earners. Since every individual files a tax return, and the total dependents for the two returns is still 4 (2 dependents on each return). Each wage earner would receive $1800 (total of $3600) “earned income tax credit” while if it was a single provider earning $36,000 with a total of 4 dependents would get zero earned income tax credit.
This would end the need for any gay marriage laws and most of the reason for the current battle between gays and the religious right. Unless of course the goal isn’t equality under the law, but to force churches and others to recognize gay unions as morally equal to strait unions. This would be using the government to force changes in religious beliefs, and clearly violate the First Amendment. In as much as we know the homosexuals only want equality, not to force others to abolish or change their religious beliefs, then this elegant simplification of the tax code should have their support. It eliminates the disparity between “married” couples and other couples. All the government would be doing is protecting individuals equally in legally binding contracts; marriage would again be the purview of the church, and none of the governments business.
The other rational for this would be the elimination of tens of thousands of pages of legal graft. The IRS tax code and laws are unequal and unjust. This would produce a far fairer and better solution to our current tax problems. Radical changes to our tax code, with radical simplification, would be a huge benefit to all of America.