Married To The State
Two marriage penalties enshrined in Obamacare are proof of the government’s continued efforts to erode traditional marriage.
Consider this: the Affordable Care Act requires married couples to combine their incomes when filing for health care coverage. While two single persons earning $40,000 a year may qualify for sizeable government subsidies, the same two people married would receive no subsidies at all. Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, gives the following example:
“A young couple without children, age 20, each making $20,000, would receive $4,317 more in health benefits each year if they cohabit rather than marry. Slipping on the wedding ring would cut the couple’s annual disposable income by more than 10 percent. Rather than pay this new wedding tax, the couple is likely to postpone marriage or forego it entirely.”
Anti-marriage penalties increase as couples age, wrote Rector, resulting in an effective tax of up to $10,000 per year for couples who simply want to remain married.
This “divorce incentive,” so dubbed by Hans Bader, a senior attorney at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, forces married couples to pay thousands of dollars more to the state per year than their non-married peers. Rector notes that a 50-year-old couple with a joint income of $40,000 could save more than $50,000 over the course of a decade by getting divorced.
A second Obamacare marriage penalty hits high-income couples through a tax surcharge. The bill puts into place a 0.9 percent tax on wage income and a 3.8 percent tax on unearned income.
As America Next Policy Director Chris Jacobs recently explained, both taxes hit couples who are married harder:
“The thresholds for the tax are at $200,000 for a single individual, but $250,000 for a couple. As with the insurance subsidy formula, this new tax will automatically penalize married couples because the tax threshold for couples is less than twice the threshold for single individuals.”