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Taxes and Transfers: A New Look at the Marriage Penalty

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  • Dickert-Conlin, Stacy
  • Houser, Scott

Abstract

The transfer system typically has large marriage disincentives, while the income tax system is likely to subsidize marriage for many low-income families. In other words, the tax system may mitigate the loss of transfer benefits associated with marriage. The relevance of the income tax system for low-income families is even greater with the recent expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which filers may be eligible for even if their tax liability is zero. The interaction of the transfer system with the income tax system has been largely overlooked. This paper describes the distribution of the joint change in transfer benefits and tax liability associated with a change in marital status for low-income married couples with children. In addition, we predict changes in transfer benefits and tax liability that accompany marriage for a sample of low-income single women with children.

Suggested Citation

  • Dickert-Conlin, Stacy & Houser, Scott, 1998. "Taxes and Transfers: A New Look at the Marriage Penalty," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 51(2), pages 175-217, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ntj:journl:v:51:y:1998:i:2:p:175-217
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    Cited by:

    1. N. Eissa & H. W. Hoynes, "undated". "The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Labor Supply of Married Couples," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1194-99, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    2. Immervoll, Herwig & Kleven, Henrik Jacobsen & Kreiner, Claus Thustrup & Verdelin, Nicolaj, 2008. "An evaluation of the tax-transfer treatment of married couples in European countries," EUROMOD Working Papers EM7/08, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    3. V. Joseph Hotz, 2003. "The Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Chapters,in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 141-198 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Lin, Emily Y. & Tong, Patricia K., 2012. "Marriage and Taxes: What Can We Learn From Tax Returns Filed by Cohabiting Couples?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 65(4), pages 807-826, December.
    5. Kasey Buckles & Melanie Guldi & Joseph Price, 2011. "Changing the Price of Marriage: Evidence from Blood Test Requirements," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(3), pages 539-567.
    6. Austin Nichols & Jesse Rothstein, 2015. "The Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Chapters,in: Economics of Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, Volume 1, pages 137-218 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Mickey Hepner & W. Robert Reed, 2004. "The Effect of Welfare on Work and Marriage: A View from the States," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 24(3), pages 349-370, Fall.
    8. Viktor Steiner & Katharina Wrohlich, 2004. "Household Taxation, Income Splitting and Labor Supply Incentives – A Microsimulation Study for Germany," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 50(3), pages 541-568.
    9. Eissa, Nada & Hoynes, Hilary Williamson, 2004. "Taxes and the labor market participation of married couples: the earned income tax credit," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1931-1958, August.
    10. Chris Herbst, 2011. "The Impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit on Marriage and Divorce: Evidence from Flow Data," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 30(1), pages 101-128, February.
    11. Janusz Kudła, 2002. "The Economic Aspects of Family Taxation," Ekonomia journal, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw, vol. 6.
    12. Stacy Dickert-Conlin & Amitabh Chandra, 1999. "Taxes and the Timing of Birth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 161-177, February.
    13. Janet Holtzblatt & Robert Rebelein, 2000. "Measuring the Effect of the EITC on Marriage Penalties and Bonuses," JCPR Working Papers 127, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    14. James Alm & Leslie Whittington, 2003. "Shacking Up or Shelling Out: Income Taxes, Marriage, and Cohabitation," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 169-186, September.
    15. Seonglim Lee & Jinkook Lee & Yunhee Chang, 2014. "Is Dual Income Costly for Married Couples? An Analysis of Household Expenditures," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 161-177, June.
    16. S. Dickert-Conlin & S. Houser, "undated". "EITC, AFDC, and the Female Headship Decision," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1192-99, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.

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