Nevertheless, starting with the Nixon administration, fiscal-social policy in the income tax code and in government spending steadily devalued marriage and gave non-marriage a better deal in the income tax law. Tax laws reduced the value of the husband and wife filing a joint return from two persons to only about 1.6 persons, while creating a new category called "head of household" for unmarried persons and valuing that person as 1.4 persons in the income tax system.
We have recently learned that a fourth of those unmarried heads of household have an unreported live-in partner with a job. Simple arithmetic shows that a single parent with an unmarried live-in partner would then be valued at 2.4 persons, which is more favorable tax treatment than respectable married couples struggling to support their own children.
That means, if the single mom has a live-in boyfriend who files his own tax return, they end up with more favorable treatment in the income tax system than a married couple raising their own children. We should not allow marriage to be discriminated against in the income tax code.
Even Obamacare contains a marriage penalty by reducing the insurance subsidy when cohabiting couples marry. As a Democratic staffer explained to The Wall Street Journal reporter who questioned the marriage penalty written into Obamacare, "You have to decide what your goals are."
The Democrats know that 70 percent of unmarried women voted for Obama in 2008. Democratic consultant Tony Podesta has cooked up 83 bills to increase handing out more taxpayers' money to single moms.
Most Republican presidential candidates, as well as conservative think tanks, publications and PACs, have presented proposals to "reform" the tax code, but they don't get it when it comes to income-tax respect for marriage. Again and again, they use such anti-marriage expressions as "individuals and their dependents."
The only one who seems to understand the family's relationship to the income tax is Rick Santorum. That could explain his surge with conservative voters.
Santorum even had to explain to The Wall Street Journal's financial guru the difference between the personal exemption for dependent children and a child credit. The difference is between reducing income taxes on a married couple raising their own children and giving refundable "credits" (aka handouts) to children of an unmarried parent.
It's time to make our income tax system pro-marriage instead of anti-marriage.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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