The Price of Love

April 22, 1994|By IRENE L. PIGMAN

Most of the year I enjoy being married, but not in April, the height of spring, when earth herself is dressed for love. Then I am filling in the boxes on a 1040 form. All those references to the single head of the household make me suspicious. Perhaps my government doesn't want me married.

I decided to find out. For my calculations I picked Ed and Edwina, an imagined married couple who had both worked to send their four children to college. Now both are over 65, still working part-time and nurturing various other sources of income.

Fortunately for my calculator and brain they both have incomes of $24,000 a year plus $8,000 from Social Security. Their good friends Bouncy and Flouncy have exactly the same income, but aren't married.

One evening the four friends got to talking about the IRS, Form 1040 and Form CRZYT1313, that must be around somewhere. Bouncy and Flouncy were awaiting their refunds. As they weren't married, they had filed separately, Ed and Edwina were aghast. Their taxes were so much higher. They must have made a terrible mistake.

F: So Flouncy explained her calculations with this table:

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Bouncy.. .. .. Flouncy.. .. .. For Both

Earned Income.. .. .. .. $24,000.. .. .. $24,000.. .. .. $48,000

plus

S.S. payments.. .. .. .. . 8,000.. .. .. ..8,000.. .. .. . 16,000

Gives

Total Income.. .. .. .. .$32,000.. .. .. $32,000.. .. .. $64,000

Take away:

S.S. Payments.. .. .. .. $8,000.. .. .. .$8,000.. .. .. $16,000

Plus

Deduction 65+.. .. .. .. . 3,700.. .. .. . 3,700.. .. .. .. 7,400

and

One Exemption.. .. .. .. . 2,350.. .. .. ..2,230.. .. .. .. 4,700

Gives

Taxable Income.. .. .. .. 17,950.. . .. . 17,950. .. .. .. 35,900

Tax (from table).. .. .. $2,696.. .. .. .$2,696. .. .. .. $5,390

(All Social Security exempt from taxes because earned income less than $25,000 each.)

When Edwina had recovered from her initial shock, she showed her calculations for married filing jointly with this table:

Earned Income.. .. .. .. $24,000 x 2 =.. .. .. .. .. .. $48,000

Plus

S.S. Payments.. .. .. .. . 8,000 x 2 =.. .. .. .. .. .. . 16,000

Gives

Total Income .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..$64,000

Take away

1/2 S.S. payments.. .. .. $4,000 x 2 =.. .. .. .. .. .. . $8,000

Joint Deduction.. .. .. . $7,600 x 1 =.. .. .. .. .. .. ..$7,600

And

Two exemptions.. .. .. .. $2,350 x 2 =.. .. .. .. .. .. . $4,700

Gives

Taxable Income.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. $43,700

Tax from table:.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. $7,446

(Social Security payments not exempt because jointly earned income is over the $32,000 limit.)

''That's a marriage tax of $2,056!'' shouted Ed.

''That's right.'' sighed Edwina. ''Just take your tax from our tax to get the Marriage Tax. $2,056. What a lot!''

''I still love you, Edwina,'' Ed cried. ''Even though it costs over $2,000 every blasted year!''

''But $2,000 saved is worth much more than $4,000 earned,'' said Bouncy. ''Saved money is tax-free.''

''To have $2,000 after taxes you have to earn more than twice as much, more than $4,000,'' said Flouncy, who was better at finance than she realized. ''Don't forget how expensive it is to work. One needs a second car, clothes, lunch, TV dinners, in addition to all those taxes on your wages. How many are there anyway?''

''National, state, county, Social Security -- 15 percent right there -- Medicare,'' sighed Edwina.

''You'd think the government would reward us for those four good taxpayers we raised. Never caused a moment's trouble. Soon there'll be eight grand-taxpayers.'' Ed checked the calculations for the fourth time. ''Never took a cent from the government until I was 65. Near gave my life in World War II.'' Ed shook his head. The tax on his marriage was beyond belief.

BTC ''I'll tell that representative of mine a thing or two,'' said Edwina.

I will too. She has a year to work on it.

6* Irene L. Pigman writes from Edgewater.

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