Marriage as Public Revenue Enhancement


[This is a guest post by William C. Duncan -ed.]

One of the biggest problems with the redefine marriage movement is its inability to give a reasonable account of what marriage is. The courts supporting same-sex marriage have typically said marriage is the way society gives its stamp of approval to committed relationships (but why?).

An interesting article from an online tax publication gives another answer—marriage is a way to sucker same-sex couples into paying more taxes. The story explains:

But certain provisions in the tax code actually put same-sex couples at an advantage, because the individuals in these relationships can benefit from one another in ways that heterosexual couples are legally forbidden.

To break it down a bit more, the Internal Revenue Code assumes that people with shared financial interests may try to use one another for tax advantages, such as by transacting business with one another. For this reason, the Code contains numerous provisions that forbid related people from taking advantage of such transactions. But still as of 2012, the Code does not recognize same-sex married couples as being related, and so they are not subject to such provisions. This opens up a world of opportunities. . . .

So even though the odds may appear as though they are stacked against same-sex couples when it comes to federal income tax, such couples are in fact in an ideal position to reap some of the most useful tax benefits available.

The article relies on this 2007 study which lays out the scenarios in which same-sex couples are likely to have significantly more favorable tax treatment than married husbands and wife precisely because they are not married. The author thinks the majority of Americans won’t like the fact that same-sex couples get a better tax deal so they will support redefining marriage. Or maybe they’ll just ask for tax reform.