Is There a 'Singles Tax'? The Relative Income Tax Treatment of Single Households

18 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2003

See all articles by James Alm

James Alm

Tulane University

Leslie A. Whittington

Georgetown University, Public Policy Institute (GPPI) (Deceased)

Jason M. Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs; Yale University - School of Public Health

Abstract

The existence of a "marriage tax," in which many married couples pay more taxes when married than their combined taxes as single individuals, is well known. However, largely lost in the attention devoted to married taxpayers is the treatment of single taxpayers. This article examines the relative tax treatment of single and married taxpayers. Various types of representative taxpayers are constructed, and the difference in income taxes paid by single taxpayers and married taxpayers is calculated. These calculations show that there is a "singles tax"; that is, a single individual typically pays a greater income tax liability than a married couple with identical income, especially when the main transfer programs are considered.

Suggested Citation

Alm, James and Whittington, Leslie A. and Fletcher, Jason M., Is There a 'Singles Tax'? The Relative Income Tax Treatment of Single Households. Public Budgeting and Finance, Vol. 22, pp. 69-86, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=320698

James Alm (Contact Author)

Tulane University ( email )

United States
5048628344 (Phone)

Leslie A. Whittington

Georgetown University, Public Policy Institute (GPPI) (Deceased)

N/A

Jason M. Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs ( email )

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
United States

Yale University - School of Public Health ( email )

PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States

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