Don't Be Married And Successful

BlogHer Original Post

I'll be honest. If there's one thing I absolutely hate, its taxes. Well, that may come in only slightly under formal short pants, but lets say that taxes are near the top, and although I was willing to believe, for a short while, that Barack Obama's tax plan was going to involve only a moderate increase at worst, I knew that I was being naive, particularly given the sheer number of social programs and government infringement on individual liberty he was proposing at speeches across the country. The equivalently-funded-to-the-military "civilian defense force" idea he had back a few weeks ago should have clued me in that the tax increase his economic advisers was going to be a massive income redistribution scheme aimed at destroying millions of successful people's ability to keep and spend their own income.

What I could never have predicted was how brutally it would punish successful women who were also married and whose income was a second household income less than their husbands.

To begin with, they propose bringing back the 39.6% top income tax bracket, an increase from the 35% current top rate. On top of that, he'd impose a new payroll tax on those top earners of 2% to 4%, bringing their marginal tax rate to as high as 43.6%. Add to that the top New York City income tax rate of 3.648% and the top New York State income tax rate of 6.85%, and the nominal marginal income tax rate mounts to a staggering 54%....

..."His plan would not raise any taxes on couples making less than $250,000 a year, nor on any single person with income under $200,000."

Don't think that this is somehow going to just tax the rich into oblivion, and redistribute their wealth to the struggling proletariat. Nope. The capital gains tax is projected to stay where it is, meaning that those whose income reaches the higher levels (many, many middle class families, entrepreneurs and business owners included) would hopefully be able to restructure their income as capital gains, so as to avoid 54% of their income being taken away to fund inevitably useless social programs.

So who really gets punished? Well, as the New York Sun observes, two income families and particularly women. If you are earning close to the $200K mark (or even if your're not), or as an unmarried couple, you fall just under $200K, you're safe from the 54% income tax. If you get married, however, and your combined income exceeds $250,00, you're out of luck.

Under Obama's plan, you're about to be severely punished. And technically, its the lower income earner who would be punished...who often, for a variety of reasons both social and personal, are the lower income earners in a two-income family.

So what if you're a successful woman, or even just a marginally well-paid one, who, alone makes a very nice salary, who meets someone who doesn't do non-profit work or have the decent sense to remain unemployed in a welfare state, you do the math and come out with a figure just over $250K (not uncommon for two college grads)? As a successful woman, are you just supposed to remain single to avoid the penalty? Or are you supposed to give up your income and stay home with your family? As nice as that would be, being a stay at home mom, or a swinging single should be a choice -- not something accidentally engineered by an economic scheme. Hell, we're always complaining about how society encourages certain personal relationships...why should we accept an economic scheme that makes the same moral judgment?

Perhaps the solution is really to do away with societal recognition of marriage, and this is really just a way of sneaking in civil partnerships, but something tells me that, like everything else that surrounds the Obama campaign that seems like it should be a joke, they are very serious about this.


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