Taxing Polygamy

[Note:  This was the April Fool’s Day entry:]  Since we use the Tax Code to encourage this (home ownership) and discourage that (tobacco), what if polygamy returns to legality in some state?  We have struggled enough with simple, two-person marriage, where we sometimes impose a marriage penaltyThat is, we tax some married couples, even if they file a separate return, more heavily than we would tax them as single individuals — if they divorced.  It’s just too expensive – in deficit terms — to remove the penalty.

Whatever Utah or Nevada or some other state might do in the future, it’s clear that the nation as a whole opposes polygamy.  It’s time to think about how, and how much, we might tax polygamic units.  What kind of penalty is appropriate?  Should it matter (as it does with the marriage penalty) if one member of the polygamic unit earns income the bulk of the income?  What about polyandry?  It’s really time to check the calendar, to recall what holiday of mirth we observe on the first of this month.  A good day to you.

 

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Author: patoglesby

From 1982 to 1990, I worked in tax policy for Committees of the United States Congress. In recent years, I was Adjunct Lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill's Business School and then Adjunct Professor at its Law School.

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