Massive Tax Increase and Marriage Penalty from Obama

by Hans Bader on May 12, 2009

Obama’s proposed tax increases create a massive financial penalty for married couples, by subjecting them to much higher income taxes than if they had chosen to live together without getting married. (Unmarried people voted decisively for Obama. But as the Associated Press notes, “married people tend to favor” Republicans like McCain).

Under the tax increases contained in Obama’s recent budget proposals, a married couple making $232,000 a year would be in a higher tax bracket than many unmarried couples making $370,000 a year. Simply by getting married, a man and woman making $170,000 each would be pushed up from their current level of 28 percent to 36 percent. But an unmarried couple making $340,000 a year ($170,000 each) would be taxed at 28 percent. And a married couple making $380,000 would be taxed at 39.6 percent — not counting certain adjustments that bring the rate to 40.7 percent. (That’s just the federal standard rate. You have to add to that state income taxes (up to 10.3 percent), and federal self-employment taxes, which many small business owners pay — which could result in marginal rates of well over 60 percent).

Obama’s proposals impose tax increases on any single person making over $190,650. Worse, they increase taxes on all married couples making over $231,300 — even if each spouse only makes half of that, or $115,650, far less than the $190,650 that drives up the rate for singles.

These tax increases are breaches of Obama’s campaign promise not to raise taxes on people making less than $250,000 a year, which he earlier broke by signing into law the regressive SCHIP excise tax increase and by proposing a global-warming “cap-and-trade” energy tax that could charge up to $2 trillion.

It’s part of a long line of broken promises, such as Obama’s pledge to enact a “net spending cut,” which he flouted with proposed budgets that will explode the national debt through $9.3 trillion in massively increased deficit spending.

Here is mega-accounting firm Deloitte’s summary of Obama’s tax increases:

“Tax increases, deduction limitations for high-income earners

Second, Obama’s budget outline delivers on several of his campaign promises to increase income taxes on higher-income individuals, including:

* Reinstating the top two individual income tax rates, currently 33 and 35 percent, at their pre-2001 levels – 36 and 39.6 percent – beginning in 2011. The 36 percent bracket would begin at taxable income of $190,650 for singles and $231,300 for married couples. While the budget proposal does not specifically indicate the taxable income level at which the 39.6 percent rate would apply, under current law for 2009, the highest tax bracket starts at $372,950 for singles and married couples. Presumably, this taxable income level would not likely change significantly for the new 39.6 percent bracket, although the Obama administration says the taxable income levels for this rate would “vary by filing status.” The 28 percent tax rate bracket would be expanded to reflect modifications to the upper limit of that bracket (where the 36 percent bracket would begin).
* Increasing the capital gains and dividends rate to 20 percent for taxpayers in 36 and 39.6 percent tax brackets. The reduced rates on gains on assets held over five years would be repealed. In both cases, the increased rates would apply beginning in 2011.
* Reinstating in 2011 the personal exemption phase-out and itemized deduction limitation, which are scheduled to be fully phased out starting in 2010. Phase-out thresholds would be $200,000 of adjusted gross income for singles and $250,000 for joint filers.

In effect, the Obama budget would raise the top income tax rate, considering these phase-outs, to 40.79 percent.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: