WASHINGTON, DC ( - House Republicans introduced new legislation on Tuesday combining a number of earlier bills that would reduce a tax penalty for married couples who end up paying as much as $1,400 a year more in taxes than if they were single.

      Under the bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Jerry Weller, R-Illinois, and Rep. David McIntosh, R-Indiana, married couples would be taxed at 15 percent on the first $49,300 of their total income -- which is comparable to two single people each paying 15 percent on their first $24,650 -- while currently, married couples are taxed at 15 percent on their first $41,200. "This reform would allow families an additional $8,100 of income taxed at the low 15 percent rate, instead of the current 28 percent rate, giving families up to $1,053 in tax relief," McIntosh said. The bill also would increase the standard deduction for married couples to $8,300 -- double the $4,150 for singles -- from the current $6,900 for a couple.

      One result of the current tax law is that it taxes the income of a family's second wage earner at a higher rate than it would if that earner were single, in some cases taking up to 80% of the that spouse's earnings as taxes.

      The bill is strongly supported by Republicans as well as pro-family groups including the Christian Coalition. Opponents criticize the bill because it does not make any provision for in spending reductions to match the estimated $150 billion in reduced taxes over five years. Weller and McIntosh said they hoped at least some of the loss would be covered by money from an expected government budget surplus. McIntosh also suggested reducing welfare spending.

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April 30, 1998 volume 9, no. 84         DAILY CATHOLIC