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South Carolina House Passes Special Tax Provisions to Promote Marriage

2 min readBy: Gerald Prante

Yes, another blog post today about a stupid taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. proposal in the Palmetto State. This time the state is seeking to give extra tax incentives to those who are married. This goes beyond eliminating any marriage penaltyA marriage penalty is when a household’s overall tax bill increases due to a couple marrying and filing taxes jointly. A marriage penalty typically occurs when two individuals with similar incomes marry; this is true for both high- and low-income couples. , as the Augusta Chronicle explains:

Married couples in South Carolina would save an average of $27 a year on their state income taxes under a bill given key approval Wednesday.

House Republicans pushed the tax break as a way to show support for marriage, but Democrats said it is not enough to buy a tank of gas.

“We think marriage is a bedrock institution in our society. Any time we can affirm our support, we’ll do that,” said House Majority Leader Jim Merrill, R-Daniel Island. “We want to help married couples in any way possible.”

The measure would eliminate the bottom tax rate for married couples filing jointly by 2010 through three years of cuts.

The actual tax break would vary depending on a couple’s earnings.

Democrats called it foolish to approve a tax cut in this tight budget year for many people who don’t need it and won’t notice it. They tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill to target poorer residents, both married and single.

“The driving force behind marriage is love, love and commitment, not tax incentives,” said Rep. Ken Kennedy, D-Greeleyville.

Attention, Republicans in South Carolina. Stop. Just stop it. While Democratic Rep. Kennedy’s statement is not totally correct given that some people do marry for money, $27 more is not likely to push many over that margin of the marry/do-not-marry decision. Furthermore, if it’s truly the government’s role to use fiscal policy to promote marriage, how about having the state establish a Department of Marriage Promotion? The department can be funded via a pole tax (i.e. tax on strip clubs) since it’s mostly singles who purchase that product, in addition to those in “unhealthy marriages,” and that will deter some people from being single, as well as promote solid marriages. And then the department can use its resources to establish a free website designed to link fellow South Carolina singles to one another to eventually tie the knot. Here’s our suggested url:

Also, the state will need an ad campaign to promote the website so we recommend that it enlist the South Carolina Lottery Commission for help on that matter. Speaking of the lottery, maybe prize amounts for the government-run South Carolina Education Lottery should be double for married couples.