DEFINITION of 'Marriage Penalty'

The increased tax burden for married couples compared to when they were filing seperate tax returns as singles. Progressive tax rate structures in the United States led to a situation where higher income individuals and couples pay higher taxes than their lower income counterparts. The marriage penalty has been at the center of many political debates and the United States governement has taken steps to resolve the taxation discrepency.

BREAKING DOWN 'Marriage Penalty'

The fact that married couples tend to pay more in taxes than single filers is debatable. However, some believe that the marriage penalty has led to greater consideration by couples to avoid marriage.

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