The Marriage Bonus/Penalty in Black and White

12 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2014

Date Written: 1996


Discusses the differences between black and white households and will show how the tax consequences of marriage tend to differ for taxpayers of different races. Black taxpayers are more likely to pay a marriage tax, whereas white taxpayers are more likely to receive a marriage bonus. I will examine the tax consequences of the marital decision in the context of current law as well as in the context of the Contract with America Tax Relief Act of 1995 (H.R. 1215), as of this writing the most recent legislative proposal to address the. marriage penalty.

The first section describes how the marriage penalty currently operates under the Internal Revenue Code. It then explains how H.R. 1215 would change current law. The second section, "The Tax Implications of the Marriage Decision," examines current data showing several differences observed in black and white households. It then analyzes that data to show the differing effects of the decision to marry on black and white households. The last section offers a method for eliminating the penalty associated with the decision to marry.

Suggested Citation

Brown, Dorothy Andrea, The Marriage Bonus/Penalty in Black and White (1996). University of Cincinnati Law Review, Vol. 65, p. 787, 1997, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper, Available at SSRN:

Dorothy Andrea Brown (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-712-8218 (Phone)
404-727-6820 (Fax)


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