Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney: Democrats Included Tax Penalties on Married Couples

Last week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., joined a letter from Republican colleagues, led by U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, in sending a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Oreg., raising concern with proposals included in the Democrats’ “Human Infrastructure” bill that would discourage marriage by including harmful tax penalties for couples who decide to marry.

“Federal policy should be designed to foster strong marriages, which are the foundation of strong families and strong communities,” the senators wrote. “Unfortunately, despite its original rollout as part of the ‘American Families Plan,’ the current draft of the reconciliation bill takes an existing marriage penalty in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and makes it significantly worse.”

More than 30 other Republican senators signed the letter which is below.

Dear Leader Schumer and Chairman Wyden:

We were disappointed to learn that in some instances the House of Representatives’ reconciliation bill creates harmful penalties for marriage. Discouraging marriage is not in our country’s best interest and sends the wrong message to our families.

As you know, current marriage penalties occur when a household’s overall tax bill increases due to a couple marrying and filing taxes jointly. A number of other federal programs, such as Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Section 8 housing assistance, also create marriage penalties by eliminating or reducing benefits for couples who marry. Oftentimes, Congress considers these policies individually, disregarding the significant financial hurdles that the combined effect can create for low-income couples to marry.

Federal policy should be designed to foster strong marriages, which are the foundation of strong families and strong communities. Unfortunately, despite its original rollout as part of the “American Families Plan,” the current draft of the reconciliation bill takes an existing marriage penalty in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and makes it significantly worse. This is not the only marriage penalty created or worsened by the partisan bill.

The EITC is an important policy tool to incentivize work, but it is also embedded with small, but damaging, marriage penalties. For example, a couple in 2019 with two children where one parent earns $12,000 and the other $30,000 could pay $1,578 more in taxes if they are married – or nearly 4 percent of their yearly earnings. The reconciliation bill could make the same family significantly worse off. It could nearly double the marriage penalty, costing the same parents $2,713 if they choose to marry.

We believe that marriage is a vital social good. It is misguided and unfair for the government to build bigger barriers for couples to marry.

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