The War on (Married) Women: It’s embedded in the tax code

Why isn’t this widely known? Because our side doesn’t understand mass communications. Why aren’t Republican politicians loudly fighting this outrage? Same answer. From the Weekly Standard:

As our lawmakers​—​newly reminded of the power of female voters​—​huddle to strategize about the “fiscal cliff,” they have an opportunity to address a real threat to female prosperity: a tax code that is disproportionately burdensome to married women, especially working moms.

Although some states have adjusted their tax rates to correct for this, and Congress has adjusted the penalty for certain tax levels, it is still true that when couples come together “for richer, for poorer,” the IRS has no problem making working women poorer. Here’s how the marriage penalty works: Mr. and Mrs. report a combined income to the IRS. This pushes them into a higher tax bracket than they, or at least one of them, were in when they were single, so their taxes rise. They are taxed on their joint income even when electing to report as “married filing separately.”

Women are the ones who typically take the larger financial hit, since most married women are second earners​—​by choice, it should be noted. The Pew Research Center reports that nearly two-thirds of married women with children 17 and younger would prefer to work part-time, a luxury enjoyed by only 26 percent of working mothers. Still, whether wives are second earners by choice or not, why should the tax code penalize their contributions and disincentivize the use of their talents?

As columnist Kimberley Strassel summed up the problem, “A married woman who does the same job as a single man keeps fewer of her dollars.” A wife working part-time can actually cause her household a net loss if her paycheck bumps the couple into the next tax bracket and the family incurs childcare expenses. That puts working mothers in an absurd position. For all the glass ceilings women have broken, working wives are standing on a trap-door tax floor.

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