July 18,2000

Roth Cheers Senate Vote to Repeal the Marriage Tax Penalty

WASHINGTON -- By a vote of 61 to 38, the Senate today voted to repeal the marriage tax penalty. S. 2839, the Marriage Tax Penalty Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000, provides marriage tax penalty relief by:

• increasing the standard deduction for married couples filing jointly to twice the standard deduction for single taxpayers;

• expanding, over a six-year period, the 15-percent and 28-percent income tax brackets for married couples filing a joint return to twice the of the corresponding brackets for an individual filing a single return;

• increasing the beginning and the end of the phase-out of the Earned Income Credit for couples filing a joint return

• permanently extending the current temporary exemption from the individual Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) for family-related tax credits, including the $500 per child tax credit, HOPE and Lifetime Learning credits, and dependent care credit.

The Senate will now go to conference with the House to work out the differences between the two marriage penalty bills.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) today delivered the following closing remarks prior to final passage:

"Mr. President, we are poised to approve the Marriage Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000. This is a great victory for the American family - all America's families. It is not one that has been won, as much as it has been earned.

"This bill is the centerpiece of our efforts to reduce the tax overpayment by American families. It is fair, it is responsible, it is the right thing to do for American families. And it is long overdue that they receive it.

"The provisions in this bill will help over 45 million families. That is virtually every family in the U.S. Some of my colleagues have argued that almost half of those families -- 21 million families located in every state in this country -- do not deserve any tax relief. I reject that argument. I reject it because in my home state of Delaware it would mean leaving over 30,000 families that contributed to our ever-growing budget surplus out of family

"All of these American families have contributed to the record surplus that we have in Washington. They deserve to get some of it back. I believed that three months ago when I first unveiled this package. And I believe it even more so today with the new numbers released by the Congressional Budget Office.

"Today's bill amounts to just 3 percent of the total budget surplus over the next five years. It amounts to just 8 percent of the total non-Social Security surplus over the next five years. That is less than a dime on the dollar of America's tax overpayment. By any comparison or estimation, this marriage tax relief is fiscally responsible.

"I would ask those who oppose this family tax relief: Just how big will America's budget surplus have to get before America's families deserve to receive some of their tax dollars back? If not now, when? If just 8 percent of just the overpayment is too big a refund, how little should it be? How long do they have to wait? How hard do they have to work? How large an overpayment do they have to make?

"This bill is fair. We have addressed the three largest sources of marriage tax penalties in the tax code - the standard deduction, the rate brackets, and the earned income credit. And we have done so in a way that does not create any new penalties - any new disincentives in the tax code. We have ensured that a family with one stay-at-home parent is not treated worse for tax purposes than a family where both parents work outside the home. This is an important principle because these are important families.

"Despite the red flags thrown up by those who want to stand in the way of marriage tax relief, this bill actually makes the tax code more progressive. Families with incomes under $100,000 pay less than 50 percent of the total federal taxes; yet under our bill, these same families receive substantially more than 50% of the benefits.

"I do not understand how people can claim that this bill is tilted towards the rich. I believe that the real complaint of those who oppose this bill is not that it is tilted towards the rich - because it is not - but because it is tilted away from Washington. As a result, some of America's tax overpayment will flow back to America's families.

"Mr. President, it is time for us to act. Families across America are waiting for us to make good on our promise. They are waiting for us to return some of this record surplus to them. Let's approve the Marriage Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000 and let's divorce the marriage tax penalty from the tax code once and for all."