Contrary to foolish meanderings of politicians, social issues are not only an integral feature of our fiscal policies but also specifically of our tax laws.
The majority of Americans say they support traditional marriage, the union of a husband and a wife, and support children being raised by their parents who are married to each other. So why are we permitting our income tax law to discriminate against traditional marriage and against the right and need of children to have a father and a mother married to each other?
Don't let anyone tell you that federal tax policy should be neutral about marriage, children and the family. There is no such thing as a neutral tax or a neutral deduction or a neutral credit.
Every part of your income tax return that you will file by April 15 is a manifestation of social policy. The whole concept that those who have more income must pay higher rates of income tax than those with less income (known as a progressive income tax) is a momentous combination of social and fiscal policies.
It's social policy that we can deduct gifts to charitable and religious organizations on our tax return. It's social policy to allow us to postpone taxes on our accounts set up for retirement.
It's social policy to permit homeowners to deduct mortgage payments. Favoring homeowners over renters was a social-policy decision made years ago and locked into the income tax law.
When we elected the great Republican Congress in 1946, it created the joint income tax return over President Harry Truman's veto. This enabled married couples, where the husband was the major breadwinner and the wife a homemaker, to file their income tax return as two equal partners, with each tax bracket, deduction and exemption equal to twice that of a single person.
For more than 60 years, the federal income tax treated the family as an economic unit. A husband and wife had the benefit of pooling their income in a joint tax return, which affords larger deductions and lower rates.
Meanwhile, pro-marriage social policy was repeatedly reaffirmed by the American people. Thirty states passed constitutional amendments endorsing traditional marriage, and Congress overwhelming passed the Defense of Marriage Act. The General Accountability Office reported that 1,138 federal laws depend on the traditional definition of marriage set forth in DOMA.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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