Eliminate the marriage penalty

"This new tax code eliminates the marriage penalty and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) while providing the lowest tax rate since before World War II."


The Census Bureau is considering eliminating five questions on marriage from the American Community Survey.
The Census Bureau is considering eliminating five questions on marriage from the American Community Survey.

Tax plan calls for end to marriage penalty, but lacks specifics

Donald Trump promised during his presidential campaign to help the working class by eliminating a feature of the tax code that charges some married couples at a higher rate than if they were to file taxes individually.

Because married couples are taxed differently than single individuals, payments can result in either a penalty or a bonus. When both people in a marriage make similar incomes, the combined incomes can push the couple into a higher tax bracket in which they pay more.

Couples earning higher incomes tend to be more likely to receive penalties than bonuses. The majority of Americans receive marriage bonuses.

To eliminate the penalty, Trump — in his campaign's tax plan — proposed making the taxable income of an individual filer exactly half of that of a married couple. In other words, a single person making between $50,001 and $150,000 would be taxed at the same rate as a couple filing jointly with a combined income of between $100,001 and $300,000.

The Trump administration's 2017 tax framework, which was released on Sept. 27, calls for eliminating instances in which married couples receive fewer benefits than if they were to file separately. If included in the final tax legislation and passed into law, the standard deduction for married and single taxpayers would amount to $24,000 and $12,000, respectively. It also proposed eliminating the marriage penalty in the Child Tax Credit.

However, the framework does not spell out how it would eliminate the marriage penalty from taxable income rates, as Trump's campaign tax plan had done.

We'll wait to see if Trump's initial tax promise makes it into the final legislation. For now, we'll rate this In the Works.


Congressional Budget Office, "For Better or Worse: Marriage and the Federal Income tax," June 1997

Donald Trump presidential campaign, "The Goals of Donald Trump's Tax Plan," accessed Oct. 5, 2017

U.S. Treasury Department, 2017 tax code framework, Sept. 27, 2017