Dan Kennedy

Maybe nobody’s noticed – I haven’t heard any pundits mention – that Obama’s next tax scheme punishes married successful people even more than unmarried successful people.

As I understand it, Obama’s tax attack begins at $200,000 of income for an individual but only $250,000 for a married couple. So, if I earn $399,000.00 and my wife is a stay-at-home Mom, we should divorce and “live in sin,” and I should shift $199,500 of the income to her. If two people are married, each earning $150,000 ($300,000 as a couple), they should divorce and escape the new tax punishments targeted at The Rich. If they stay married, they get slaughtered. If they get single, they are spared the shearing.

This is a very interesting piece of social engineering, diametrically opposite the favor historically shown to married couples by the tax code. Perhaps it is in philosophical synergy with federal funding for abortion on demand, or maybe just an odd accident.

As an incidental item, it spotlights just how foolish and unfair social engineering by tax policy always is. For everything somebody judges “good” and encourages with tax code manipulation, there is behavior judged “bad” (success and “too much” wealth) to be punished, and havoc ensues.

What is the purpose of taxation? Is it to finance necessary government services, or to empower certain individuals-on-high to reward or punish us according to their moral and philosophical views? This question should have been asked, publicly debated and settled quite some time ago. But it seems critical to ask it now that the new president has proclaimed the tax code (and the federal budget) as his weapon with which to smite sinners.

Assume, for example, that the government wants to encourage fuel conservation, which it says it does. So it may pile on gas taxes to discourage driving. (This is, not coincidentally, a way of taxing all those poor people who pay no income taxes and all the others Obama promised an income tax break to. He giveth, He taketh away. He giveth a little, He taketh away a lot. Too bad no media outlet has compiled a list of all the tax increases Obama is levying on those same folks he has promised tax relief to. That $13 bonus per paycheck and free college is going to prove very, very expensive.)

Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy is a serial entrepreneur and contributor to the Business & Media Institute.