So today I’ve been reading a lot of news articles about the proposed budget deficit plans and weighing the pro’s and con’s of the different plans (unfortunately, not many in my generation seem all too concerned with the crippling deficit), and it struck me that with the significant pay raise I took this year, my tax bracket might have changed. Sure enough, I took a look at the 2010 Federal Income Tax Brackets and discovered that I might have jumped into a higher category (into 25% from 15% during 2009).
But you know what really got my blood boiling this morning? The cold hard fact that if I got married, today, to the woman I plan on spending the rest of my life with, I will be treated by the IRS as a “single” person. If it was just the label, I might not be so peeved…but it has significant consequences financially. Consider this:
If you are filing as a “single” person, you will jump from the 15% bracket to the 25% bracket once you make over $35,000. If you are “married” and filing jointly, you don’t make that jump until you make over $68,000. The assumption is simple; if you are married then your income is that person’s income and there’s more of a financial burden (if you will, I don’t like that word but I couldn’t think of a better one) for you to carry. For example, lets say one of you is in, oh I don’t know, law school, and the other one is employed full-time. Doesn’t it make more sense to keep the student on the other partner’s health care plan rather than take out another couple thousand dollars in loans per year for a student health care plan that you’ll have to pay back with interest? Or lets say, god forbid, that some type of emergency comes up for the student that requires a lot of money. Doesn’t it make more sense to have the employed partner pay for it than taking out an emergency loan that again, must be paid back with interest? These represent possible expenditures for the employed partner that he/she would not have if he/she were single. So the idea that you shouldn’t be bumped into the 25% bracket if you are married (or “partnered”) until you’re making over $68,000 makes sense. Yet, if you have a same-sex partner and you’re legally married (like in the state of MA), you are treated as a “single” person by the federal government. Too bad, so sad. But hey, at least Will & Grace was on network TV for so long, right?
In a more blatant example of this, the standard deduction for a “single” tax payer is $5,700 (e.g. the amount of income that you can’t be taxed on, which means this is subtracted from the actual income you made and then you are taxed percentage-wise on the difference). For someone who is “married” and filing jointly? $11,400. Again, married same-sex couples are not eligible for this.
If you’re wondering why the gays are pushing so hard for marriage rights, look no further. Well, maybe look further before I cause you to believe that the entire LGBT community is made up of nothing more than money-hungry tax evaders, but this is an extremely good example of why civil unions, for example, are not enough to guarantee equal treatment of same-sex couples. I’m not going to argue that money isn’t important. It is. It is to every one of us, and if you’re one of those people who says it’s not, blah blah hippie blah? Well, you’re lying.
The offering of “civil unions” is a complete and total cop-out. I’d even go so far as to argue that they do more harm than good because they placate the hetero world into thinking “hey see? We’ve extended this olive branch a little and gave them these civil union things, so why are they still yelling about marriage so much?! They got their equal rights!” No, no we didn’t. Even in states that recognize same-sex marriage we didn’t get our equal rights on the federal level (and lets face it, for those of us who have filed our own taxes every year, who can honestly say their state refund was even in the same league as their federal refund?). We’re yelling because they’re something to yell about. There are two ways to solve this:
a) Recognize same-sex marriage on the federal level. Hell, I’ll even accept eliminating DOMA for now, which means the federal government will have to recognize marriages performed in states where same-sex marriage is legal. Then we can work on those 30-something states that have banned it.
b) Eliminate the different filing categories and create an all-encompassing “US tax-paying citizen” bracket with a standard percentage breakdown. No preferences. No differences. Everyone pays their taxes regardless of whether they’re gay, straight, white, black, purple, or Asian (you get the point).
The point being, you can’t have it both ways and then claim that same-sex individuals are treated equally in this country and thus, have no right to be bitching. Sorry, but there’s something to be bitching about, and this particular area is one glaringly clear example of it!