House Expected To Act On Marriage Tax Penalty Thursday

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( - The House has scheduled a vote on the Marriage Tax Penalty Relief Act for Thursday, according to a spokesperson for House Republican Leader Dick Armey's Capitol Hill office.

The bill is designed to provide an estimated $182.3 billion in tax relief over 10 years to more than 50 million Americans, according to a statement from Armey.

Armey said relief is needed because "our current tax code punishes working couples by pushing them into a higher tax bracket. The marriage penalty taxes the income of the second wage earner, typically the wife, at a much higher rate than if she were taxed only as an individual."

Armey also said marriage penalty relief is middle class tax relief.

"Middle income families are hit the hardest by this penalty. Most marriage penalties occur when the higher earning spouse makes between $20, 000 and $75,000 per year, according to the CBO (Congressional Budget Office)," Armey said.

President Clinton last year vetoed a marriage penalty relief act. His proposal this year would provide $45 billion in relief over 10 years. Republicans say their plan will provide working couples with four times more relief than the Clinton proposal.

House Republicans discussed ending the marriage penalty during floor speeches on Tuesday.

"Our income tax system hasn't gotten better, it's gotten worse," Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-NV) said Tuesday. "Today, American taxpayers including myself just cannot understand why married couples must pay more in taxes, simply because they are married."

But Gibbons said while he welcomed Clinton's marriage tax relief proposal, he doesn't think Clinton's plan goes to "the heart of the problem."

"His proposal fails to help all of America's hard working couples while the Republican plan will provide over the next decade $180 billion in marriage penalty to 25 million couples, including millions of middle class Americans hit hardest by this unfair tax burden. It's time that we right this wrong and provide real marriage relief for America," Gibbons said.

Representative Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) said that passing the Marriage Tax Penalty Relief Act will be step in forming a fairer income tax system.

"Last year, nearly 50 million Americans including 200,000 of my fellow Arkansans paid extra taxes just because they were married. These folks did not pay just a little bit in more taxes they paid an average of $1400 a piece. Our government is discriminating against married couples by forcing them to pay an extra fine of more than $1,000. This is not fair and it should end," Hutchinson said.